Histoire numérique et l’historiographie

Digital Cultural Heritage: the case of the Rijksmuseum’s past, present and future

25 Avril 2019

Digital Cultural Heritage: the case of the Rijksmuseum’s past, present and future

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Photo by John Lewis Marshall (2014)

Lecture by Saskia Scheltjens, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, about the role of information and data science within cultural heritage.

This lecture is the 3rd event in the lecture series "New Horizons: Confronting the Digital Turn in the Humanities" by the Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C²DH) at the University of Luxembourg. It can be combined with the Digital Day in the Luxembourg City Museum in the afternoon of the same day.


The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has often been lauded as one of the first museums in the world who in 2012 released almost all of its collection images and metadata into the public domain using CC0.

This Open Data policy, including API’S to access the data, was accompanied the following years by a new website and a collection discovery interface called ‘Rijksstudio’ which went on to win numerous international prizes for innovative webdesign. The latter also was mentioned by Mitchell Whitelaw in the introduction of a UX design principle and interface now known as a ‘generous interface’. In the long tail of these changes, prize-winning mobile apps and new social media channels are now being developed. How did the Rijksmuseum get to this point, how did it evolve from there and what will happen next?

In her talk, Scheltjens will elaborate about these topics from the perspective of an information scientist interested in the history of science within a museum. The role of information and data science within cultural heritage is often is being overshadowed by the fascination with the opportunities digital technology offers. But the way museums create, store, share and archive knowledge, information and data is vital in a time where digital technology moves at an ever rapid pace, losing its innocence along the way. The impact of automation and digitization in museums, together with the rise of digital scholarship, artificial intelligence and data driven museum practices throughout the organisation, have resulted in a paradigm shift. Not the collection is the central focal point, but the relations between the objects and the people surrounding them, be it on the museum side or on the side of the museum audience. Information and data act as commodities to support that change.


About Saskia Scheltjens

Saskia Scheltjens is Head of the Department of Research Services at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. In that role she and her team of +35 people are responsible for all the information and data about the collection, including the open data policies, research data and collection IT. She studied literary science and information science at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. Before her job at the Rijksmuseum, she was responsible for a large reorganisation of 50 different libraries  and the creation of the faculty library of Arts & Humanities at the University of Ghent. She was also on of the co-founders of the Ghent Centre for Digital Humanities, creating a Library Lab to support digital humanities research.



Thursday, 25 April 2019

10.30 - 12.00



Maison des Sciences humaines - Black Box
Belval Campus
11, Porte des Sciences
L-4366 Esch-sur-Alzette


With the kind support of


Privacy notice