The OSCI Toolkit is an open-source project of the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) to create a suite of tools that facilitates the publishing and broad dissemination of online scholarly catalogues for art history. In 2011, the IMA was awarded a grant from the Getty Foundation to support the project as part of its Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative (OSCI), which aims to create replicable models for museum collection catalogues in the online environment. This current project builds upon the conceptual framework and prototype software developed at the direction of the Art Institute of Chicago during the initial OSCI grant cycle from 2009-2011.
The Getty Foundation launched OSCI in 2009 with nine partner museums: Art Institute of Chicago; the Arthur M. Sackler and Freer Gallery of Art; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C.; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Seattle Art Museum; Tate Gallery; the Walker Art Center; and the J. Paul Getty Museum. The consortium works together to frame key issues and develop creative solutions to the challenges of moving museum catalogues online.
The Indianapolis Museum of Art is now working with the larger OSCI consortium to build the OSCI Toolkit as reusable components that can be combined and enhanced by museums to create a variety of experiences supporting the creation of online scholarship for art museums. The prototype, developed with the Art Institute of Chicago, demonstrates one potential direction for how online catalogues might be delivered; certainly many other options have yet to be explored. The Indianapolis Museum of Art will continue to work with the Art Institute of Chicago and other OSCI partners to create a flexible system to aid in publishing these texts online.
To that aim, the OSCI Toolkit project will pursue the following goals and methodologies:
In 2010, the Art Institute of Chicago engaged the IMA Lab of the Indianapolis Museum of Art and began work together to design prototype software for an online catalogue of works by Monet and Renoir in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. Envisioned as a tool for art historians and other scholars, the team took inspiration from existing printed materials—wishing to add the best interactive features of the web without compromising the scholarly nature of the text.
In 2011, after months of curatorial research and technical study, the Art Institute of Chicago released brand new scholarship highlighting Claude Monet’s Beach at Sainte-Adresse and Cliff Walk at Pourville in addition to Pierre-August Renoir’s Laundress. These initial catalogue entries were released as part of a usability test of the prototype software developed by the Art Institute of Chicago in collaboration with the Indianapolis Museum of Art. This software—named ChicagoCodeX—was released by the Art Institute of Chicago under an open-source license and constitutes the foundation of the OSCIToolkit project.
In the fall of 2011, the Getty Foundation awarded the Indianapolis Museum of Art a one year grant to generalize and enhance the prototype created by the Art Institute into a general purpose publishing platform for online scholarship in art history.
The Art Institute of Chicago and the Indianapolis Museum of Art have continued their collaboration on both projects to incorporate the feedback and improvements discovered during the initial usability tests of the prototype, and to integrate these publishing tools into the core information systems used by the Art Institute of Chicago.
Given the success of the initial efforts to publish entries by Monet and Renoir, the Art Institute of Chicago has accelerated its efforts to publish digital scholarship online and will release the completed Monet and Renoir online catalogues in 2013. In addition, work has begun on some of the other volumes of the series, Paintings and Drawings by the Impressionist Circle in the Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, and these will be digitally published in the following years as they are completed. Research and writing is also underway to prepare digital monographs on the Art Institute’s works by Picasso and other well-known artists in the Modern Collection. Finally, discussions have begun to explore the feasibility of using the ChicagoCodeX to publish digital editions of selected printed catalogues previously released by the Art Institute of Chicago.