The Art Institute of Chicago, one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States, has outlined its recent efforts to make publicly accessible online as much content from its collection as possible. In addition to information on over 100,000 artworks from the collection, the API also provides access to information on every exhibition hosted throughout the museum’s existence.
Over the past several years the Art Institute has been working steadily to improve and expand its online presence. These efforts have resulted in the release of various new tools including a search by color feature and a Google Chrome extension, to name a few. However, the underlying technology that supports these features is what is most impressive.
As mentioned above, the API that supports these features provides valuable access to information on thousands of pieces of art and detailed information on previous exhibits held on location. Additionally, developers can access details on 1,000 products from the gift shop, decades worth of blog posts, and full publication texts.
The museum has already witnessed the power of the developer community and has seen their data be used in exciting projects. By providing additional access, it hopes to capitalize on this energy. The announcement spoke to this value:
“What else will people build? Will someone combine our shop data with other museum APIs to build an online store that brings together merchandise from a bunch of museum shops? Will someone use the terms with which we’ve tagged our artworks to build an image-recognition system that works as well with paintings as it does for photographs? The possibilities are truly endless!”
Developers interesting in working with the API can check out the documentation.