KHALILI DIGITISATION INITIATIVE
Over a number of years, the Khalili Collections has undergone a major digitisation project in order to make its Eight Collections more accessible to the general public. The majority of the approximately 35,000 works in the Collections have now been photographed (and in some cases filmed) in high definition; these digital assets are used for a variety of projects such as publications and catalogues, exhibitions, websites, social media campaigns and other digital initiatives.
GOOGLE ARTS & CULTURE PARTNERSHIP
In 2018, the Khalili Collections partnered with the Google Cultural Institute to optimise its digitisation project and to host its own page on the Google Arts and Culture platform, which was launched in early 2019.
“The scale and diversity of the Khalili Collections place them among the most impressive, and we are very excited to help make these cultural treasures and the magnificent stories they tell available to millions of people worldwide”. said Lucy Schwartz, Program Manager – Head of UK Programs at Google Arts & Culture.
“A true collector has the social responsibility to fulfil five essential criteria: to collect, conserve, research, publish and exhibit their holdings.” said Professor Sir David, founder of the Khalili Collections. “Digitisation is the natural next step in our mission to enrich as many lives a possible with art. We are proud to be partnering with Google Cultural Institute, the global leaders in this area.”
Google Arts and Culture is an online platform through which the public can access high resolution images of artworks belonging to its partner institutions. These institutions include some of the most reputed international museums such as the Tate Gallery (London), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) and the Uffizi (Florence).
The Khalili Collections is exploring a number of projects with Google on how to leverage the latest advances in artificial intelligence, machine-learning and high-definition technology to optimise the digital experience relating to its Collections. These include:
- Microscopic View
- Virtual Reality Exhibition View
- Digitisation of Books
- Video Content
So far, the Collections have worked with Google to capture Meiji silk textiles using Art Camera gigapixel technology, and curated three digital exhibits which are currently published on the Google Arts & Culture platform. These can be found here.
WIKIMEDIA UK PARTNERSHIP
Wikipedia is the world’s leading website through which people learn about history and culture. It is the number one informational site on the web, and gets many times more use than museum websites. There are 260 million views on English Wikipedia per day, with about 70 million users per day. Whilst it is hard to know what proportion are for “cultural” articles, it is fair to say there is the equivalent of at least one Exposition Universelle (9 million attendance) every single day thanks to Wikipedia.
In partnering with Wikimedia – the world’s farthest-reaching digital ecosystem for cultural knowledge – the Khalili Collections is keeping with its ethos of making its art and knowledge available to as many people as possible globally.
“At Wikimedia, we are actively seeking to diversify our cultural content, and the Khalili Collections is one of the most geographically and culturally diverse collections in the world, spanning some two and a half millennia, with masterpieces from Europe, the Middle East, Scandinavia, East Asia, Russia, South Asia, North Africa and beyond”, said Lucy Crompton-Reid, CEO of Wikimedia UK. “We are proud to be partnering with one of the world’s great preservers of global cultural heritage”.
“We are delighted to be working with Wikimedia UK, undeniably a pioneer in delivering free access to cultural knowledge worldwide”, said Sir David. “The partnership is an important part of our wider, long-standing strategy to make the Collections – and the five decades of expert research dedicated to them – more accessible to art and culture lovers worldwide”
Key milestones have already been achieved. The Khalili Collections is now one of the leading cultural institutions documented on Wikipedia, both in terms of the size and quality of its articles. Khalili Collections articles have achieved a quality comparable to all major museums, and tens of millions of people worldwide have been exposed to the and Khalili Collections through links and images on Wikipedia’s front page. For example, the “Did You Know?” feature of Wikipedia’s main page showed facts and images from the collections multiple times to an audience totalling over 28 million (Wikidata, November 2020).
ART UK PARTNERSHIP
Given the restricted access to exhibitions and galleries during the COVID-19 pandemic and the significantly growing demand for digitised content relating to art and culture from around the world, The Khalili Collections formed a milestone partnership with Art UK – the online platform that enables global audiences to learn about the UK’s art collections.
Art UK reaches 3 million website users and 12 millions page views a year. The Khalili Collections will share high-definition images of its many masterpieces from its Eight Collections, which together represent the majority of the world’s regions. This artwork will be used to tell important stories about cross-cultural influences in the history of world art.
Regarding the partnership, Sir David said: “It is our great pleasure to partner with Art UK, given our shared mission to make art accessible to everyone via digital experiences. This partnership serves as an important component of our digitisation strategy, and I am delighted that masterpieces in our Collections will contribute to the enrichment and education of millions of people across the UK and beyond”.
Andrew Ellis, Director of Art UK said: “All of us at Art UK are absolutely delighted that the Khalili Collections will be joining our platform. Whilst Art UK will always be driven by providing digital access to the UK’s 3,000+ public art collections, we have started to invite selected private institutions to participate too. This great art collection assembled by Professor Sir Nasser David Khalili over five decades will bring stunning artworks from the Middle East, North Africa, Russia, Japan and the Far East to Art UK and allow us tell stories to our global audience about their making and the diverse cultures that inspired them.”
A key strategic partnership between Europeana Foundation and the Khalili Collections has been established to develop projects together relating to open access policy and practice for digitised cultural heritage.
Co-financed by the Connecting Europe Facility of the European Union, Europeana works with leading European archives, libraries and museums to share cultural heritage for enjoyment, education and research. It provides access to millions of books, music, artworks and more – with sophisticated search and filter tools to help viewers find what they’re looking for.
The collaboration with the Khalili Collections involves developing editorial content which combines openly licensed digital material from the Khalili Collections with other open collections to tell important stories, such as the influence of Islamic art on European culture, interfaith harmony in art and the role of art in Women’s history. A key objective is to enhance inclusion and diversity in the cultural heritage sector.
Sir David said: “Our partnership with Europeana is an important milestone in our commitment to embracing the best and most creative technological platforms for sharing the vast heritage in our eight Collections. We are excited by what we can achieve together in ensuring that as many people as possible are enriched with beauty from all over the world. After all, art is a universal language that transcends all boundaries.”