Developments in Cultural Data

The following guest post is by Rob Myers, artist, hacker, writer, and member of the OKFN Working Groups on Open Data in the Humanities and Cultural Heritage and one of the curators of the of the Open Art and Cultural Data group on the Data Hub.

This year has seen some exciting developments in cultural Open Data.

Theatricalia is a database of theatre performances, places and people. The earliest production currently in the system is from 1660 – possibly the first time a professional actress appeared on a public stage in England. It’s all Open Data under the ODbL, which was established via a query through OKF’s Is It Open Data earlier this year and the website updated to state this.

Meanwhile, Kasabi have created a database of artworks owned by the UK government, which was scraped and placed under the Open Government Licence. You can access it through their SPARQL interface to find out just what art the government owns and where it is holding or displaying it.


JISC OpenART is uploading data about the art world in Britain from 1660 to 1735 to its online database under the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike licence. You can find out more about the project’s ontology and future plans at York University Digital Library’s blog, and there is a schedule for future uploads on the art world site.

Other providers of cultural Open Data such as Europeana, the National Gallery and Freebase have continued to add new data and in the case of the first two to explore new open licences.

If there’s a cultural dataset that you know is Open but that isn’t listed on the Data Hub (and specifically the Art and Cultural Data group do let us know!