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New publication: ‘This is not an apple! Benefits and challenges of applying computer vision to museum collections’


Network event at the Barbican Centre

In 2019 Dr Oonagh Murphy, Lecturer of Arts Management, in the Institute for Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship co-founded the Museums + AI Network with funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The Network which includes The National Gallery, Metropolitan Museum of Art and American Museum of Natural History spent a year researching and developing new approaches to planning and realising Artificial Intelligence technologies in museums.

 ‘This is not an apple! Benefits and challenges of applying computer vision to museum collections’ brings this cutting edge research together in a new paper in the Journal of Museum Management and Curatorship. This research, based on the analysis of five case studies and semi-structured interviews with museum professionals, examined the opportunities and challenges of computer vision, the resources and funding required, and the ethical implications that arise during these initiatives. The case studies examined in this paper are drawn from: The Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA), Princeton University Art Museum (USA), Museum of Modern Art (USA), Harvard Art Museums (USA), Science Museum Group (UK). The research findings highlight the possibilities of computer vision to offer new ways to analyze, describe and present museum collections. This research adds to the rapidly evolving field of computer vision within the museum sector and provides recommendations to operationalize the usage of these technologies, increase the transparency on their application, create ethics playbooks to manage potential bias and collaborate across the museum sector.

What the computer sees when it looks at art: extra of data presented in this paper

Dr Murphy has recently signed a book contract with Routledge and will be publishing a book titled ‘Museums and Artificial Intelligence’. The book which will be co-written with Dr Elena Villaespesa from Pratt Institute is part of a new series called Critical Perspectives on Museums and Digital Technologies, edited by Prof Ross Parry and Dr Vince Dziekan.

The Museums +AI Toolkit which was developed through sector workshops at Goldsmiths, University of London and Pratt Institute (New York) has been downloaded over 2,800 times. Over the last year Dr Murphy has been invited to share her research on Artificial Intelligence at conferences in South Korea, Germany, UK, USA, Austria, Cyprus, Ireland.

You can follow this growing body of research on the Museums + AI website.

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