Crowd-sourced Tagging to Enhance Discoverability

Tuesday, April 4th: 8:30am - 9:30am


Senior Interactive Developer @ Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Demonstration Abstract

As a teaching museum closely connected to the curriculum of our college, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art is always seeking ways to make our collections more relevant to our students and faculty. Our objects are well-organized and cataloged for museum use, but are far less defined in terms of subject matter. Keywords provide some help in this area but typically populated with curatorial terms (portraits, vessel, aerial photography, etc.) as opposed to depicted concepts (horses, churches, roads, etc.). Our goal was to make it easier for a researcher in a particular field to be able to enter topical search queries and get back a set of objects that depicted that topic. For example, if an astronomy faculty would like to utilize our collection to show examples of comets, we would like to provide a set of all objects that depict comets.

Lacking the internal resources to populate this new metadata for our collection of over 20,000 objects, the BCMA developed a crowd-sourced tagging system that allowed viewers of our online collections to suggest contextual keywords. To provide consistency in metadata, user suggestions generate a list of standardized terms from the Getty’s Art & Architecture term match Web service ( which the user may select. We store these entries in a database outside our collections management system that powers an experimental search interface and acts as a staging area for reviewing possible keyword inclusion in our CMS.

ID: 11053