LH.20.012 – Digital interactions for cultural analytics and art experience.

Route: Living history

Cluster question: 111 Will digitisation save our cultural heritage?

Cultural heritage digitisation has brought complete museum collections into laboratories and living rooms. This has changed both science and the general publics’ relation with art. Fields such as digital humanities have gained momentum over the past few years, while digitised artworks are ominously present in social networks and publicly curated on platforms like Rijks Studio.

Currently, digital art history combines existing metadata (material, iconography, provenance etc) with computational image analysis. However, much goes unseen by algorithms. Therefore, human input is needed. Human annotations have been studied abundantly in the analysis of ‘natural’ images (e.g. for computer vision), and in this initiative we aim to transpose this knowledge to the cultural domain. Combining these three types of data (meta, computer and human) will both boost digital art history and substantially enrich user access to large digital collections.

But what about the actual artworks? The availability of digital reproductions does not withhold us from visiting museums. On the contrary, it seems to increase our curiosity. Not only do they draw us towards museums, they also affect our experience. To illustrate, a concert of known work (be it a symphony or popsong) is a different experience than a premiere. In a similar way, the knowledge gained in online galleries affects the experience in physical galleries. Yet, there is preciously little known about the interaction between the real and the virtual.

Art has always been a source of fascination to both public and science: What defines artistic style? Can we restore old photos to revive the past? What makes a real work so different from a picture? We believe we can answer these and many more vastly intriguing questions by thoroughly investigating and experimenting with digital interactions with online collections and evaluating art experiences in museums.


art, computer vision, cultural analytics, heritage access, interaction design., museums, real vs virtual, visual perception

Other organisations

Rijksmuseum, University of Amsterdam (UvA)


Organisation Delft University of Technology (TUD)
Name Dr. M.W.A. (Maarten) Wijntjes
E-mail m.w.a.wijntjes@tudelft.nl
Website www.maartenwijntjes.nl