Understanding and Interpreting Ethnological Artefacts Using Semantically Annotated Images

Snežana Popović, Zoran Cvetković, Vesna Bižić OmčIkus, Miroslav Mitrović

Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade, in addition to museum collections, possesses digitized collections of photo negatives and images. Usually, negatives and images were taken during of curators’ field researches. Predominant motifsof images are scenes from the life of the rural population: jobs in the household, farming, animal husbandry, crafts, annual celebrations, rituals and ceremonies, weddings. One of the digitized image collections is semantically annotated by sets of metatags: title, description, keywords, location, author, date of creation and corresponding categories. Semantic annotation is applied using: Dublin Core Schema, UNESCO Thesaurus and CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model. Technical processed and semantically annotated images are ready to be inserted into the Museum Information System’s database.Semantic images annotation was a part of a project that was realized in the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade. The aim of the project was linkage museum objects with a collection of photo negatives and images. The project’s object was semantic images annotation the Collection of Petar Ž. Petrović. The collection includes about 1,200 images, created during the period of 1923-1937. A motive of the project comes from the fact that acquisitions of museum objects extract them from their natural and functional surroundings. During the scientific and expert processing, museum professionals partially establish connections to their environment data. Better results can be achieved if they use the same standards and vocabularies: for processing museum objects and also, for processing image collections. Concept of applying the same standards and vocabularies proves its strength in searching data about museum objects. Corresponding results to search terms are data about some museum objects, and in addition, results contain a list of images which possibly can explain its natural and functional surroundings. It is important toemphasize that images from a resulting list are not images of the unique museum object, included in the museum collection. Images and objects are connected exactly by terms from used vocabularies. This approach did it possible to represent contexts of more than one museum objects, only by one image and vice versa: native class of museum objects could be presented by more than one image. For example, the context of a museum object "ceramic pot" could be explained and interpreted by images where motives are: making a pot ("ceramic round", "crafts"), using a pot ("jobs in the household", "preparing food"), functional roles in the household ("kitchen utensils", "pottery").Uniformity and consistency of semantic images annotation could be achieved if the image collection is processed as a whole, by establishing uniform subject criteria. Comparing results with objectives of the project, we realized that the applied concept of using the same standards and vocabularies, for annotating images and describing museum objects, contribute to comprehensive understanding and interpretation of environmental context of museum objects. Petar Ž. Petrović’s image collection was a sufficiently representative sample. Therefore, it is possible to conclude that the applied concept can be used for semantic annotation of any other image collection in order to semantically link images and objects from the fund of the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade.