Conference Announcement | 24. May 2024

Is this research data or can it go? Research data and digital strategies in art history. Conference on July 5-6th

By Dr. Maria Effinger

File cabinet with open drawer

File cabinet with open drawer

"File cabinet with open drawer" Creator: Maksym Kaharlytskyi

Organizer: Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte München, Deutscher Verband für Kunstgeschichte e.V., Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg /

There was and is research data everywhere in art history: notes, excerpts, photos, tables, sketches, transcriptions, text versions, reconstructions... Every project, every published (or even only preliminary) text, every inventoried collection, every recording, investigation and interpretation of cultural objects in the broadest sense is based on such materials. Especially in a historical science, these contain potential for further use. The further fate of these preparatory or 'auxiliary materials' has so far been left entirely to the individual researchers, projects or institutions. At best they were archived in some way, at worst they were destroyed.

The digital format now not only offers completely new possibilities for the development of research data, but also increasingly challenges us to think about their subsequent use and reuse. This concerns individual researchers as well as institutions or the commercial engagement with art and culture. The question is not only what can, should and may be kept and made available to the general public. Crucial is also, how this data is prepared, structured and published. It is clear that this not only addresses central questions of resources (working time, financing, but also storage space, etc.). Questions of scientific categorisation, of (shared, collaborative, updating) authorship need to be rethought in a new way, as well as forms of scientific evidence, bibliographic recording, etc.

There is currently talk of Research data management (RDM) everywhere. With the National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI), science policy has initiated a process, at the center of which is research data. However, research data in art history differs partly more, partly less from that of other disciplines. Likewise, the expectations and requirements of art historians with regard to research data relevant to them should not simply be congruent with those of other sciences. The conference will address these key issues and, building on this, will develop a joint proposal for the next steps. This is the only way to ensure that the research data relevant to the subject is recognized and can be compiled and made available in a sustainable form.

To the program of the conference on 5-6th July at the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte München