Museums are more and more conscious that Internet is a powerful tool to make their collections known, but given their scarce resources, small museums can catch up with the prestigious ones only through a joint effort. POUCE aims at validating a method for facilitating the joint presence on the Web of a group of museums, via a semantic portal able to manage heterogeneous resources (great variety of objects conforming to different descriptive systems) poured into it by the participating museums.
POUCE will implement a digital inventory method in a limited number of museums, using XML to allow processing heterogeneous data. Data are uploaded into a collective database, with a unifying XML schema. This database is accessible through a semantic portal, which automates the updating operations and offers powerful search functions.
The gap is widening between prestigious museums and small ones which have too limited means to make known through Internet their wealth and the events they organise. POUCE aims at demonstrating a method and software tools facilitating the joint presence on the Web of a group of small museums.
On-line organisation of heterogeneous information is very difficult, but recent technological progress now allows managing it, in a more automated and simplified way, through semantic portals that integrate databases and static documents. POUCE intends to test a method allowing efficient integration of heterogeneous resources on a "thematic portal" and this for the variety of cultural heritage fields covered by the cultural institutions participating to the portal.
European museums increasingly digitise their inventory collections. Given the wide nature of the objects present in these collections, it is impossible to use a unique descriptive system. This might not be a problem as long as the inventory remains autonomous, but becomes one when information is to be present on an integrated portal. POUCE aims at demonstrating a generic solution that solves the problem of integration of heterogeneous descriptive systems.
It will implement:
1. A digital inventory method and its associated software tool (based on XML) in a limited number of regional museums. The advantage of XML here is that it allows distributed applications to process heterogeneous records.
2. A procedure and associated tools to upload the inventory records and digital pictures of each museum into a collective data base, using a unifying conceptual XML based model. The integrating platform uses INDEXML, "open source" software realised in 2000 by INRIA.
3. A Web site, built following an "integrated semantic portal" architecture conforming to the most recent state of the art. This portal allows access to the common museum catalogue, and also to other categories of documents (presentation of the museums, events they organise, virtual exhibitions). This portal automates a large proportion of the updating operations and offers powerful search functionalities.
The workplan also provides, for project management, project assessment, dissemination of results, production of documentation, training of the participating museums and generation by them of the digital data necessary for the trial.
Major milestones include:
1) Installation of the inventory software on the computers in the participant museums;
2) Test phase in the participant museums with their generated digital content;
3) Test phase of the portal with the content from the museums;
4) Delivery of methodological guide.
The results include:
a) a semantic portal for 5 museums and
b) free software tools for those museums to manage their collections in this context.
Funding SchemeACM - Preparatory, accompanying and support measures
36200 Argenton Sur Creuse