Walters Ex Libris: The Walters Art Museum and Byte Studios

Ariel Tabritha

Museum Photographer, Walters Art Museum

Kimber Wiegand

Digital Imaging Specialist, Walters Art Museum

Walters Art Museum

600 N Charles St Baltimore MD 21201 United States

http://manuscripts.thewalters.org/

https://thewalters.org/

http://www.thedigitalwalters.org/

MUSE Applications APIs Gold 2017

 

Ex Libris: Manuscripts, Metadata, and the Modern User Experience

 



The Walters Art Museum has been digitising its collection of illuminated medieval manuscripts throughout the past ten years. As part of this ongoing digitisation project known as the Walters Digitization Initiative, manuscript image sets, cataloging information, and machine-readable metadata are created and stored online at The Digital Walters (thedigitalwalters.org) in a raw format and made available to the public under a Creative Commons CC0 license. The Digital Walters was built purely as an online archive so as not to be encumbered by ever-changing design trends inherent to front-end web products. This allowed us to focus on creating mass amounts of detailed data quickly and sustainably.

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In 2017, the Walters Art Museum and Byte Studio launched Ex Libris at manuscripts.thewalters.org as a way to further encourage both exploration and scholarship of the Walters' manuscript collection. Ex Libris was built upon The Digital Walters' foundation as a front-end user interface for the Walters Digitization Initiative. It is an easily searchable website with dynamic visuals, including a virtual page-turning tool, that allows a broad range of audiences to engage with our manuscripts in intuitive ways.

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Ex Libris won the Gold MUSE Award for APIs and Applications from the American Alliance of Museums in 2017. There are two major factors that allowed for this success: the fact that extensive metadata and high-resolution image sets had already been created, and most importantly that Ex Libris was designed not as a repository but as an application prioritising greater worldwide accessibility and audience engagement.

 

 


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