DOMUS and CERES: ancient names for advanced systems

The Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport is involved in projects related to museums’ collection documentation, with a strong focus on the promotion of these collections through new information systems.

About ten years ago, the Ministry developed  an application currently used  by more than 160 Spanish institutions, called DOMUS (Documentation and Museographic Management Integrated System). The aim was to reach the highest dissemination of DOMUS in the Spanish museum context, regardless of its thematic area, status or number of objects. This extensive dissemination has enabled us to catalogue under the same descriptive structure about 1.800.000 cultural items, providing important benefits, such as the unification of the vocabularies used (making easier the retrieval of information), an optimal exchange of information between museums, and the creation of a union catalogue with cultural items kept in Spanish museums, accessible through the Internet.

To this purpose, the Digital Network of Spanish Museum Collections (CERES) was launched in 2010. At the moment, this gathers 200.000 cultural objects and 300.000 related images. The museums included in the Network are of different typology and status, including, amongst others, the Archaeological National Museum, the Costume Museum, the Andalusian Centre of Contemporary Art, the Regional Museum of Daroca, the Pedagogic Museum and the  El Greco Museum.

The contribution of CERES is not limited to providing information about the individual museums object, although one of the key objectives of the system is to facilitate research work. The information enrichment provided by CERES aims to offer transversal readings about the collections by means of publishing on-line studies. The collaboration between museums from the  Network has resulted in interesting projects, such as Women’sHeritage, an initiative created to make public and give visibility to collections made by women or contributing to make known aspects about discourses, cultures and periods in which women had a relevant role or, on the contrary, had been set aside.

CERES maintains a strong connection with other cultural repositories, namely with Hispana at a national level, bringing together digital collections from Spanish archives, libraries and museums, and with Europeana at a European level. Besides being an important content provider for Europeana, having so far provided 130.000 digital cultural objects, CERES allows to access Europeana results from its search engine through the Europeana API.

The Ministry is also actively involved  in the field of vocabularies. Since its establishment, one of the characteristics of DOMUS has been the terminology control in a number of information fields, and the development of thesauri on a number of subjects: Ceramics Furniture Numismatic Materials Geography objects related to rites, devotions and beliefs, and to Artistic Expression. All these vocabularies are accessible from a web portal interacting with CERES and allowing the retrieval of terms which can also be visualised in objects from the museum collections.

Our  involvement in European projects, which have a focus on information technologies applied to the cultural sector, responds to our goal of promoting and disseminating information about our cultural heritage. As a result of our contribution to LoCloud  30.000 digital objects related to archaeology and architecture from regional Spanish museum collections will be added to Europeana. Thanks to LoCloud we will also introduce the semantic web in our thesauri portal, since it is planned to model in SKOS some of the vocabularies (e.g. the Material Dictionary), with the aim of accessing and enabling  the  utilisation of other ‘skosified’ vocabularies developed by other museum institutions. In the future, will continue working in this area, connecting institutions, vocabularies, research, collections and users, and participating in international initiatives set out to enrich the information related to our heritage.

María Luisa Martínez-Conde Gómez
María Carrillo Tundidor

Directorate General of Fine Arts and Cultural Assets, Archives and Libraries Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. Spain