Museums and the Web 2005
Demonstrations: Description
Photo Credits

See museum applications demonstrated by the people who created them.

The Global Performing Arts Database

Ann Ferguson, University of Washington, USA

Demonstration: Demonstrations - Session 2

This demonstration will provide an overview of the Global Performing Arts Database (GloPAD). GloPAD is a multi-media, multi-lingual, web-accessible database containing digital images, texts, video clips, sound recordings, and complex media objects related to the performing arts around the world. GloPAD is a project of the Global Performing Arts Consortium (GloPAC), an international organization committed to using innovative digital technologies to create easily accessible online resources for the study of the performing arts.

GloPAD draws on material from world-wide performing arts collections including such diverse institutions as the St. Petersburg State Museum of Theatre (Russia), the Max Reinhardt Archive at Binghamton University, the Necessary Stage of Singapore, the Theatre Collection of the Museum of the City of New York, the Wason Collection of East Asia at Cornell University, and the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre in Hanoi. Thanks to its global content, multi-lingual functionality, and availability via the Web, GloPAD promises to foster scholarly and artistic cross-fertilization by breaking down barriers of language, geography, and access.

The ephemeral nature of the performing arts, their dependence on image and sound, and the complex context of their creation are all qualities that make the use of digital technologies in the study of performance particularly potent. These same characteristics, however, also make it difficult to adequately describe a performance and its elements. It was quickly apparent in the early development of the Global Performing Arts Database that existing metadata standards failed to provide a satisfactory framework for describing performance. Thanks to a three-year IMLS National Leadership Grant for Library-Museum Collaboration, the Global Performing Arts Consortium has addressed this need for a metadata standard for the performing arts through the creation of a sophisticated metadata schema that accommodates the particular descriptive requirements of performance.

Several libraries, museums, and performing arts organizations have been involved with the creation of this metadata standard. Key institutions include Cornell University, the University of Washington, Columbia University, the Performing Arts Library and Museum of San Francisco, the Museum of the City of New York, the Gertrude Stein Repertory Theatre, Binghamton University, and St. Petersburg State Museum of Theatre. In the process of creating, evaluating, and modifying the metadata schema, the project team has addressed issues related to translation, differing cultural perspectives, and widely diverse performance traditions.

This demonstration will offer an introduction to the Global Performing Arts Database and its metadata schema. Information about future plans for GloPAD and the possibilities for individual and institutional participation in GloPAC ( will also be presented.