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Vocabulary in museums and the provision of a webservice for museum vocabulary

Vocabulary in museums and the provision of a webservice for museum vocabulary

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Vocabulary in museums and the provision of a webservice for museum vocabulary

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  1. Vocabulary in museumsand the provision of a webservice for museum vocabulary

  2. Since the 1960s, museums are increasingly perceived as information institutions Museums have a strong impact on audiences (107,3 Mio museum visits in Germany in 2007)

  3. "Halskette aus dünnen Goldröhrchen, goldenen Lunulae, Pyramiden und Perlen aus blauem Glas. Aus Kertsch/Südrussland. 3.-4. Jh. nach Chr. Misc 10520, 10; L 36,5 cm. Greifenhagen II Taf 21,3. Der röm. Schmuck lässt sich bisher nur ganz allgemein den aus den übrigen Künsten bekannten Entwicklungsphasen der frühen Kaiserzeit des 1., der mittleren des 2. und der späten des 3. Jhs. nach Chr. zuordnen. (…)" (Aus: Antikenmuseum Berlin. Die ausgestellten Werke. 1988)

  4. Museumsvokabular • PROPER OWN PROFESSIONAL VOCABULARY OF MUSEUMS • Not yet developed fully and in standardized form • Dictionarium Museologicum 1987 20 Spr. • Courierspeak (phraseolog. Dict.) 1993 6 Spr. • SPECTRUM 1997 / 2005 English, translations • Dutch, German, (French) • MUSEUMWISE: Workplace words defined 2003 Enflish • (…)


  6. Museumsvokabular • 3. „DOCUMENTARY ‚SUPER-TERMS‘ / NODE LABELS“ Resulting from the construction and ordering of vocabulary for Museum object description(s) Examples: „Activities“, „Materials“, „Furnishings and Equipment“ …. (AAT) „Communication Artefacts“ („Nomenclature ..“) Labels for grouping, „Node labels“ in thesauri

  7. Museumsvokabular • DESCRIPTIVE VOCABULARY FOR MUSEUM OBJECTS • by far the biggest group • Object terms (designations) and names • Manufacturing techniques • Material of production • Cultural Context (habits, social institutions, social values, …) • „Formal data“ – Concerning the objects‘ contexts / history (extrinsic) • - Names of persons (owners, previous owners, artists, ..) • - Geographical names (Place of production, of use, interim abidence, ..) • - Language names, names of cultures / civilizations • „Formal data“ – Concerning the objects‘ status (e.g., in the museum) • - Mode of acquisition of the object, etc.

  8. Vocabulary vs. Terminology The (technical) words / language The vocabulary, structured by concept used in a given subject field relations, proper definitions, fixed rela- tion term – concept, and possibly term conventions (‚motivated terms‘) Often: a description of a word / concept A precise and accurate definition of a word / concept according to est. rules

  9. Terminology principles (some of them) For the field of words you want to cover, always establish a concept system, showing all the words and their interrelations. Define a word / concept by referring to (stating) the next broader (higher) concept / term and give in addition – only – the differentia specifica, usually 1 charac- teristic. Using this method, define words / entries from the same line / „array“ always by following a same criterion („aspect of division“): animals by age, by skin, by num- ber of legs, etc.

  10. Museumsvokabular • Museum vocabulary / terminology originates: • - („is coined“) to a large degree in the individual museum(s): card files, internal and public catalogues, lists of all sorts, object acceptance receipts, … • - This uses a lot of common vocabulary, but often not in a structured way • - Some of the vocabulary originates from the subject science to whose field the object belongs (fixed nomenclature in natural history !), and is sometimes specifically coined in case of new objects • Other: • Common vocabulary beyond the individual museums: auction catalogues (18th century on), scholarly descriptions of the antique, inventory lists of aristocratic holdings/tenure, • and the „Corpus“ works from 19th c. on: „Corpus of antique vases / coins / vessels / glass painting / mosaics, ..“ etc

  11. In this frame, within the museum - which vocabulary / terminology arises ? • It does arise, first, in the context of the immediateaction frame ofthose doing the work: • - „ordinary language“ voc. with ordinary museum staff • - Scientific voc. / terminology with specialized / scientific staff • Local / regional voc./term. with specifically local / regional objects and with staff knowledgeable of these loc./reg. specialities

  12. Museumsvokabular What kind of data about an object are linguistically expressed ? Intrinsic data; by sensual perceptiondirectly readable from the object Extrinsic data; Object-external knowledge (account, narra- tion, other sources): Everything that „happened to the ob- ject“ (that „the object experienced“), its surrounding – events, circumstances, affiliations, usage, etc.

  13. Basic categories (fields) for the description of a museum object • Maker / artist (Person or corporate body) • Name / Product name or proper name of the object • Title (if there is an exact wording, firmly assigned to or passed down by the object, e.g. a painting) of the object • Subject term for the object (as short as possible, but also as precise as possible) • Group or class, to which the object belongs • Physical appearance (measurements, weight ..) of object • Date / Time of formation / nascency of the object • Material / manufacturing technique • Intended and actual use of the object (if ascertainable) • Subject headings for subject access to the object Aus: „Datenfeldkatalog …“

  14. (Museum) Terminology in the (data) fields

  15. Museums, more than others, are forced to operate with only partially validated information. Many objects first need to be „determined“/“ascertained“, then „termed“ / „named“, a lot in them is often unknown in the beginning. This is a difficult area; here, formation of vocabulary and (systematic) terminology as much as of the subject knowledge – in their interrelation – can be studied in nuce.

  16. Terming / naming principles of museum objects are: a. According to form (typology) („cup", "ovoid Aryballos") b. According to function / purpose / use (typology) („coffee cup“) c. According to material(s) (typology) („porcelain cup") d. According to style / period („Jugendstil cup“) e. By a personal or geogr. name, given to / used for a type of object ("Lord-Salvage-clock“, „Zaandamer Wanduhr“, „Nürnberger Ei“, „Appenzeller Uhr“, ..) And, for ‚individual(ised) names‘ of objects: f. Referring to – sometimes famous - personalities ("Homer-Fries", „Adenauer-Mercedes“, „Elgin marbles“. etc.) g. Referring to geographic origin ("Goldbecher von Gölenkamp", "Krieger von Hirschladen"). Adjectives ? Judgemental expressions ? („very nice small sculpture of a dancer“)

  17. A number of published vocabularies / terminologies (some differentiated by the different data fields they pertain to) : • Typically, these take the form of • Controlled alphabetic lists • Classifications / Typologies / Taxonomies • Thesauri

  18. Auszug aus: „Systematik … Kultur- geschichtlicher Bestände“ (Hessen) 2001

  19. ICONCLASS Bd. 5

  20. Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) Getty, 1990

  21. Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) Getty, 1990

  22. Glossarium Artis Band 2

  23. Chenhall, Nomenclature Gor museum cataloging1978 (AASLH) / 1989

  24. mda (now collectiontrust), UK Railway Thesaurus (1994)

  25. Inventaire général (FR) La sculpture 1989

  26. Thesaurus des objets religieux(1994) en – fr - it

  27. Problems / next tasks: • Relations to be established between the individual museums and trans-individual vocabularies / terminology • Missing poly-hierarchy of many classifications etc., makes access via / to the different aspects of an object difficult • Existing good-quality vocabularies / terminologies are often hard to use because they do not exist in multilingual form • Could European projects, EU-projekts help in this respect ?

  28. The initiative • Web-Services for controlled vocabulary • Fundaments • Interface definition • Examples of application

  29. Shared vocabulary for all –but: • Vocabularies exist in different (data) formats !

  30. Vocabularies exist in different (data) formats!Solution: • museumvok: Format for the description of vocabularies • Based on SKOS - Simple Knowledge Organization System / W3C – • Vocabularies on „“ are provided in this format

  31. museumvok: Format for the description of vocabularies • Lexikal units / denominations (preferred, alternative, dis-recommended) • Semantic relations (Broader concepts / terms, narrower, related) • Documentation of the format (definitions, notes) • Cross-references between concepts in different vocabularies

  32. museumvok: Elements Basic structure: Concept about relationship (related, typeOfRelationship) prefTerm (prefLabel, source) equivRelationship (equivConcept (equivID, equivLabel, equivSource) mappingRelation) altTerm (altLabel, source) hiddenLabel notation definition inScheme depiction memberOfCollection subjectIndicator broader note narrower creation use status useFor

  33. Shared vocabularies for all –but: There are different vocabularies !

  34. There are different vocabularies !Solution : Web-Service „W3C defines a Web Service as a software system, established to support interoperable machine-to-machine communication via a network. (…)“ Source:

  35. There are different vocabularies ! Solution :Web-Services • Different vocabularies can be used when existing in the same format. here: museumvok-Format • Different services can be used with the same client when the services use a uniform interface here: museumvok-ws (interface definition of the SIG Dokumentation, IfM and ZIB) • Users already: Adlib, GOS, ImdasPro

  36. Advantages of a WEB-Service: • Open standards and widely used internet-technology • http as the network protocol • SOAP as the data exchange protocol • WSDL WEB Services Description Language • XML as the system-independent mark-up language • All these technologies are independent of operating systems and hardware(s)

  37. Description of functionalities: • searchConceptsById: finds for each ID from a list the related concept • searchConceptsByTerm: finds for each term from a list the related concept(s) • fetchHierarchy: provides for an ID the requested hierarchy-string. Depth and direction of search can be parametrised • getSchemeMetadata: provides on request the Metadaten for the available vocabularies

  38. Example of application for Web-Service:Thesaurus-based search in collections Object-DB-Server (GOS o.a.) Thesaurus-Server (MySQL o.a.) Local Browser DB-query SOAP-Request communication via http communication via http Result HTML, XML SOAP-Responsemuseumvok-Format:XML-based, SKOS-compatible

  39. Back, for a second, to the beginning: professional vocabulary of the museums themselves