Published July 10, 2024 | Version v1
Presentation Open

RKD Research, the digital hub for art historical research

  • 1. RKD Netherlands Institute for Art History


The RKD, Netherlands Institute for Art History, is the knowledge centre for the visual arts of the Netherlands and provides worldwide access to knowledge, research and information for the academic community, museums and the general public. The RKD acquires, manages, researches, connects and presents art historical knowledge and information, while actively seeking to involve people in the development and proposals for future improvements in digital services and outreach.

The RKD has been transitioning from physical to digital services in line with the Digital Heritage Reference Architecture and within the Digital Heritage Network. As part of a review conducted by the Ministry of Education in 2022, the RKD received two key recommendations: to develop a radical digital strategy to keep pace with societal developments, and to clarify and concretize its public function and social relevance.

The RKD has responded to these challenges in two parallel ways. First, in 2023, the RKD has developed a new digital strategy that includes a clear definition of user groups and the (especially digital) ways in which these groups will be served with innovative services:

The RKD is the digital entry point for research into the visual arts of the Netherlands in an international perspective, by making unique parts of the collection digitally accessible in combination with innovative tools (enabling new types of art historical research). The RKD focuses on both the art-loving individual and the intensive researcher with a two-track strategy. For the intensive researcher, we are a knowledge institute that is building a growing group of enthusiastic users and ambassadors of tomorrow through a connecting role, participation in research projects and community building initiatives.

Secondly, the RKD Research interface provides access to all of the RKD's art history databases. It contains a wealth of information on works of art, individuals and institutions, research results and art historical archives. Researchers can make their own selections of images and view and compare them in their own digital workspace. There is also a visual search facility that gives access to five million reproductions of works of art in the RKD documentation.

RKD Research contains a large collection of art historical data that complements data collections from other institutions. By publishing the data as Linked Open Data, the RKD makes it reusable and connectable. These links not only enrich the data of other institutions, but also connects them to data in other contexts that are also linked to the RKD data. Where the RKD 'building blocks' are not primarily created for a large audience, they become an essential link in the complete map of national digital heritage data that the Dutch government wants to achieve for a general audience. The same approach makes it possible to provide richer data by connecting with our traditional user group of art historians.

The presentation will further elaborate on the digital strategy and its translation to the RKD Research platform. It will also share the first experiences of users after six months in use.



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