Oral History: making art stories accessible

18 May 2022

Museums have unique recordings of spoken stories about artworks in their archives, but this ‘oral history’ is often difficult to access. DANS is one of the partners in the project Oral History – Stories at the Museum around Artworks (OH-SMArt). In this project, researchers from various Dutch institutions will greatly improve this accessibility. The project is financed by the Platform Digital Infrastructure for Social Sciences and Humanities (PDI-SSH).

Museums struggle with a great lack of digital resources. Moreover, the procedures used to make recordings of spoken stories about art available are very time-consuming, partly because of the sometimes very sensitive information. As a result, there is a large backlog in the processing of this archive material, which is, incidentally, a well-known phenomenon within research into Oral History.

The OH-SMArt project aims to significantly improve the digital research chain around Oral History. For example, recordings will be directly connected to an automatic speech transcription service, making it easier to access and archive spoken art stories. In addition to improving the workflow, new tools will be developed that promote reflection: user interpretations will be stored with the source material, putting the researcher’s point of view into perspective. OH-SMArt will provide smart and sustainable access to behind-the-scenes museum work and contribute to the improvement of Oral History research in general.

More information

OH-SMArt is a collaboration between the University of Amsterdam, the University of Twente, DANS-KNAW, the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, the Open Speech Technology Foundation and participating museums and institutions. The project is funded until the end of 2024 by the Platform Digital Infrastructure for Social Sciences and Humanities (PDI -SSH).


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