From 2016 to 2020 we will be working hard on the SMK Open project: making our collection, which belongs to everyone in Denmark, available to all. With SMK Open everyone will have the opportunity to make their own way into the realm of art while drawing on SMK’s vast stores of knowledge and materials.
In countries such as The Netherlands, the USA and the UK, major museums have long been digitising and sharing their collections freely with everyone. They have done so to accommodate culture users of today and tomorrow; users who are not simply content to be spectators of culture. They want to get actively involved, and they want to use culture in their own lives. The lessons learned from these museums’ activities are clear: far more people use the collections when they can actively select, reuse, remix and share the works – including people who would not otherwise use the museums.
The SMK Open project is based on a vision of making art accessible and relevant to far more people. This is done by making the SMK collections available as an online resource and tool that people can bring into their own lives and use on their own terms.
A democratic digital treasure trove of art
The SMK collection comprises more than 250,000 works of art, but only 0.6 per cent of these are on display in the museum’s exhibition rooms. With SMK Open the collections are made freely and instantly accessible in digital form, like a huge box full of building blocks to be used exactly as you wish.
During the first stage of the project, some 40,000 works will be made accessible. Approximately 15,000 of these will be available as high-resolution files that anyone can use for any purpose – for example for books, teaching materials, online blogs, Wikipedia articles, film and TV productions, to decorate their living rooms, their local area etc. Anything is possible. In the SMK Open project, each digitised work will get its own digital page that not only includes its image, but also supplementary materials such as film clips, articles, audio tracks, X-ray photographs of the work and information on any upcoming events or exhibitions that involve the work.
All copyright-free works can be used by anyone for any purpose. This means that all Danes – indeed everyone in the world – are free to access, download and use this digital treasure trove of art. Users can also add their own comment on works, contribute information or engage the museum staff in conversations about the art.
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The digital history of the SMK
February 2001: The first SMK website is launched.
2008: SMK receives a generous donation from the Nordea foundation, supporting the four year SMK Digital project.
2009: SMK takes its first steps towards working with open collections with its "Fri Billeddeling" (Free Image Sharing) project, conducted in co-operation with four other Danish art museums.
2012: SMK releases 160 high-resolution digital images of highlights from its collections and carries out a range of pilot projects focusing on creative uses of the works.
2014: SMK introduces a new Public Domain policy in which the museum relinquishes all rights to reproductions of its copyright-free works.
2015: SMK launches collection.smk.dk, making 25,000 photographs of works freely available as downloads.
October 2016: Launch of SMK Open.
Other digital SMK projects
Wiki labs is an SMK workshop setting where art historians, wikipedians and volunteers write and submit articles on artists, artworks and styles that are not yet properly described online.
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SMK has joined cultural institutions from 28 European countries to create a unique digital art collection, Europeana280, on the digital cultural platform Europeana.
Explore a wealth of art at Europeana Collections
GIFT is a new EU-funded research project at the IT University of Copenhagen (ITU). Its objective is to help museums throughout Europe to utilise the potential of technology to create engaging art experiences.
For more, visit the ITU's blog