Conflicting Classifications. Epistemological, methodological, and ethical challenges in modelling cultural heritage and art-historical data.

Activity: Talk or presentationAcademic


More and more, cultural heritage and academic institutions are describing and sharing their data as linked data not only for the management of their collections, but also for research and education. This opens new possibilities for the re-use of knowledge about collections. However, the emergence of large data sets in cultural heritage institutions require a necessary critical reflection on epistemological, methodological, and ethical issues concerning their use in research and education. In this presentation I will briefly discuss the outcomes of a project in which Dutch academic (Huygens Institute, Meertens Institute University of Amsterdam Vrije University of Amsterdam and Utrecht University) and cultural heritage institutes (Rijksmuseum, KB National Library of the Netherlands, RKD Netherlands Institute for Art History) together developed a research infrastructure for the analysis of interactions between the production and the consumption and between the various branches of the creative industries of the Dutch Golden Age. In the context of this project: Golden Agents: Creative Industries and the Making of the Dutch Golden Age that combined Semantic Web with Multi-Agent technologies, various ontologies were developed of 1) storylines 2) archival resources 3) periodization. Here, we discuss epistemological, methodological, and ethical challenges to model ontologies to structure cultural heritage and art-historical information based on published and unpublished conflicting classifications of the arts. We will focus on uncertainty and ambiguity in modelling and discuss ethical problems of data integration in retrospect of published and unpublished data. This presentation builds on earlier publications such as, “Modeling and Visualizing Storylines of Historical Interactions” and contributions to colloquia ( Visual Contagions ) and is intended as an exploration of the development of ontology design patterns for the Making of the Arts.
Period28 Mar 2023
Event titleSemantic Web, Cultural Heritage, and Art Historical Knowledge:
Conceptual Models, Ontologies, and Epistemological Implications
Event typeSeminar
LocationMalaga, SpainShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • linked data
  • ontologies
  • digital art history
  • cultural heritage
  • Kubler
  • De Waal