Providing accessible online collections
Feedback from user research for the recently re-launched Metropolitan Museum of Art website made it clear that users need multiple routes into the collections. Visitors want to search across data, on multiple dimensions, and find other artworks that may interest them. To do this with the data available was a huge challenge. Museum collections data is not necessarily structured to support this, especially in a collection as diverse as the Met’s. In this paper we discuss the system we built to enable the Museum to analyse the data and construct rules to support these user journeys. With this system, Museum staff match terms against standard vocabularies (including AAT and TGN), provide contextual interpretation of terms by department, qualify terms such as locations, and define rules for common misspellings. A powerful Solr search system provides the quick and complex search functionality, establishes the relationships between artworks, provides free-text searching, and gives facet counts.