May 8, 2012

Media Contact:
The Walters Art Museum
410-547-9000, ext. 277
[email protected]

The Walters Uploads More Than 19,000 Images of Artworks to Wikimedia

Baltimore—The Walters Art Museum has uploaded more than 19,000 images of artworks, along with associated information to Wikimedia. Wikimedia Commons is a media file repository making available public domain and freely licensed educational content for unrestricted use. It acts as a common repository for various projects of the Wikimedia Foundation, including its collaboratively edited encyclopedia, The images are made available for use in Wikipedia articles in any language.

This is part of the Walters’ larger initiative to provide free public access to its collection, both online and offline, beginning with the removal of admission fees in 2006. In 2011, the Walters launched a redesigned works of art website with 10,000 online artwork images through a Creative Commons license.

The Wikimedia project began in February 2012, in collaboration with Wikimedia’s GLAM-WIKI outreach program, created to establish partnerships with the Wikimedia community and galleries, libraries, archives and museums. The Walters met with several members of the Wikipedia community for a three-day conference hosted by the National Archives in Washington, D.C., where the basic details of the upload procedure were established. In the weeks that followed, the uploads were conducted, monitored and tested, while collaboration continued online.

“The Walters has gone above and beyond throughout this collaboration with the GLAM-WIKI community, working alongside Wikipedians to serve as a model for our mass image upload process,” said Lori Byrd Phillips, US Cultural Partnerships Coordinator for the Wikimedia Foundation. “The release of these images will not only improve articles in Wikipedia, but will also have the potential to be used freely throughout the web.”

“By uploading our information in this way, we can share items of cultural heritage from around the globe, directly with people in those parts of the world. Already our images have been used in 48 different languages. The Walters’ collection is well suited for this project because of its size and its breadth of topic areas,” said Manager of Web and Social Media Dylan Kinnett. “By developing documentation and tools for this type of work, we hope that our upload project can serve as a prototype for other cultural institutions.”

An example of a Walterspainting that has been published to Wikimedia as part of this project is Jean-Léon Gérôme’s The Tulip Folly. The museum’s images are used in some cases as illustrations in Wikipedia entries whose topic is not the artwork itself, but a related idea, such as a mythological figure, or a time or place. For example, the Walters’ painting of the Hindu Goddess Saraswati has been added to Wikipedia entries in five different languages about the goddess.

The Walters Art Museum

The Walters Art Museum is located in Baltimore’s historic Mount Vernon Cultural District at North Charles and Centre streets.  Its permanent collection includes ancient art, medieval art and manuscripts, decorative objects, Asian art and Old Master and 19th-century paintings.