Paper 20

2018 Washington conference submission

Back to program.

Uses of IIIF at the National Gallery of Art

Alan Newman - National Gallery of Art (United States), Benjamin Zweig - National Gallery of Art (United States), Michael Skalka - National Gallery of Art (United States), Roger Lawson - National Gallery of Art (United States), David Beaudet - National Gallery of Art (United States)

Abstract: The National Gallery of Art is advancing several projects and initiatives with use of IIIF/Mirador functionality. This includes the Gallery’s website, ConservationSpace, The Center for Advance Study of Visual Art’s (CASVA) Accademia di San Luca and the Library’s Digital Cicognara Library.

ConservationSpace is a document management software program created for the conservation community to allow users to write, store and retrieve documentation related to the care of cultural objects. Mirador was incorporated into ConservationSpace to provide a robust tool so users may examine works of art stored in the system.  Images can be compared, overlaid and viewed with varying degrees of transparency control and annotated to link descriptive text with areas of an image that are of interest to conservators.

The Accademia di San Luca project is using Mirador to expand the scope and richness of the original project by including four annotated historical maps of Rome. Using Mirador has enabled the project to show how the city of Rome changed over a century and allows both the research team and external users to better connect the city’s urban history with the activities of the Accademia.

The Digital Cicognara Library is an international initiative of nine partners to recreate in digital form the remarkable private book collection of Count Leopoldo Cicognara (1767–1834) numbering some five thousand early imprints considered the foundational literature of art and archaeology. The site currently features the 1821 Catalogo ragionato combined with modern bibliographic descriptions plus a limited number of images. When complete, the application will consist of the full text of the Catalogo integrated with digital images and full text of every title in the corpus, including black-and-white facsimiles of the original volumes in the Vatican Library, plus one or more high-resolution, color scans of unique copies owned and digitized by partner libraries, and detailed bibliographic information. The scans will be viewable through a distributed network of image servers using IIIF. The copy-specific characteristics of the newly digitized volumes will provide new information about the early modern literature of art and its readership, Cicognara’s own reception and his impact on historical scholarship, and the development of research libraries. Thanks to generous support from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and partner institutions, the Digital Cicognara Library is an open-access resource.

The National Gallery of Art has over 125,000 works in the collection but the vast majority are in storage and not available to the public. Digital images are the primary way the public can access these works. The Gallery has photographed over 90,000 objects in the collection and made these images available for the public. In 2017 the Gallery created a viewer using IIIF and Mirador that allows a visitor to the web site to compare multiple works of art. The visitor selects multiple works from a search and with a click those works are brought up in a Mirador viewer. The viewer allows the visitor to zoom in on the works and observe a high level of detail.

Presentation type: 60 minute discussion


  • Discovery of IIIF resources,
  • Emerging use cases for IIIF technical specifications


  • art,
  • museum,
  • collection,
  • iiif,
  • compare,
  • map,
  • library