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Artificial intelligence helps organise Denmark's largest art collection
SMK’s new online collections allow visitors to explore approximately 40,000 digitised works of art from the museum, analysed and arranged into categories by means of artificial intelligence. Photo: SMK.


COPENHAGEN.- On 29 November, SMK launches a new, user-friendly online collection. Approximately 40,000 digitised works from the museum collection have been arranged into categories by means of artificial intelligence. At the same time, the museum releases the application programming interface (API) used to build the online collection, allowing everyone to use SMK’s data as they wish – for example to create their own apps.

Art should be set free. This is one of the visions of SMK, which, being the national gallery of Denmark, houses a vast collection of art that belongs to the entire nation.

Reflecting this ambition, the museum has been working on a digital project called SMK Open since 2016. Funded by Nordea-fonden, the project aims to make the museum’s collection and digital material available on a wide range of platforms and to ensure that everyone, regardless of where they live, has the opportunity to explore and use the museum’s art collection and data.

As part of the project, SMK now launches a new online art collection. Made public on 29 November 2019, the new online collection features a range of new, detailed search functions that makes it by far the most user-friendly point of access to the collection ever.

‘We are constantly working to make the museum collection relevant and accessible to as many people as possible. Now, we hope things will be easier for anyone who wants to explore or use the collection digitally – including for those who want to browse the art in a more intuitive way without necessarily having decided in advance which specific artist or art historical period they are interested in,’ says Jonas Heide Smith, Head of SMK Digital.

The new online collection will, among other things, enable visitors to search for works depicting specific subjects such as people, flowers or chairs. It will also be possible to search for works done in specific colour schemes or for works that resemble each other, and of course you can also search and filter the works by means of more classic parameters, such as by artist and year.

Use the art
With SMK’s new online collection, you can download – for free – any and all of the museum’s digitised works that are in the public domain, meaning works that are no longer protected by copyright. For example, this includes works by Vilhelm Hammershøi, Anna Ancher, L.A. Ring and many more. You can download high-resolution images, enabling you to print the pictures on anything you like: posters, cushions and so on. Of course, you can also use them in books, research articles, school assignments and so on.

The online collection is initially launched as a beta version, allowing users to provide feedback. Based on this feedback and SMK’s own experiences, the online collection will be updated regularly.

Based on artificial intelligence
In order to create the new search features, SMK has categorised every single work in the online collection. At this point in time, the collection contains approximately 40,000 digitised works with photos, all of which have been analysed, tagged and systematised. Carrying out this huge task was made possible by the use of artificial intelligence.

‘Having actual people tagging all the works would be incredibly expensive and time-consuming. Furthermore, it would be very cumbersome to change the procedure later; you would have to go through the entire collection again. With artificial intelligence, we can get the job done quickly so we can concentrate on more complicated and creative tasks,’ says Jonas Heide Smith.

Free access to data
The objective of the SMK Open project is not just to create a new online collection, but to make the digitised art collection accessible in formats that are flexible and lend themselves to as many uses as possible. The idea is to allow anyone to create their own websites and apps based on the museum’s data.

SMK Open
From 2016 to 2020, SMK carries out the project SMK Open, which aims to make the nation’s art collection freely available to all. Everyone should have the opportunity to make their own way into the world of art, drawing information from SMK’s vast collection of data, insight and materials. The Nordea-fonden has generously supported the project, donating DKK 11.7 million.

To this end, SMK has released the Application Programming Interface (API) on which the new online collection is based. This allows users to access the underlying data and use it as they wish.

Using the API, individuals and businesses can create their own apps, websites and so on based on SMK’s data. The services developed will be directly connected to the API, meaning that they will automatically be updated with the latest information as soon as SMK updates the collection data.

A beta version of the API is available now at smk.dk/api.

From 29 November, the new online collection will be available at open.smk.dk.






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