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rtMaps explores the relation between art and place, through

the development of a crowdsourcing platform that allows

people to ‘put themselves in the picture’ , and to contribute

their knowledge about locations associated with artworks. The

platform uses existing geographical data on works of art to map and

visualise them in relation to locations in the real world. ArtMaps is a

collaborative project involving Horizon Digital Economy Research,

the Centre for Intermedia at the University of Exeter, and Tate (Tate

Learning, Tate Digital and Tate Research).

Approximately one-third of the Tate Galleries collection, comprising

almost 70,000 artworks, has been indexed with information about

locations, typically the site represented in the work. For some

artworks this information is quite specific (e.g. exact latitude and

longitude of the landmark/site depicted in the work), but in many

cases it is quite general, referring only to a city, region or major

geographic feature. The ArtMaps project aims to improve the quality

of the geographic data relating to these works, with members of

the public contributing information, as well as to gain new insights

into how people use technology to generate novel location-based

interactions with their environment through art, and with art through

their personal associations.

The ArtMaps platform has been successfully used to design and

support several engagement events targeted at different audiences

(e.g. families with children; migrants; elderly; on-line public). John

Stack, formerly Head of Digital at Tate, highlights: “The ArtMaps

project is shaping how we think about the role of the museum as

a platform for audience engagement and the issues raised by the

project are proving to be fundamental for our work in the years


“The ArtMaps project and its research questions has coincided

with a wider transition at Tate from audience interaction being a

marginal activity to one that is informing much of our thinking about

the future of the organisation. The museum of the future is not

just a place where objects related to cultural heritage are cared for

and displayed. It is a platform where new ideas and meanings are

generated, exchanged and preserved, and digital technologies will

likely be key to enabling this.”

The project findings show that ArtMaps facilitates access to people

who do not habitually visit museums, extends the gallery experience

outside the museum, allows for encounters with items not ordinarily

on display, stimulates collaboration and group discussion, facilitates

mobile learning and, through crowdsourcing, potentially produces

valuable and original knowledge for the museum. “By opening new

opportunities to engage the public in novel ways such as Web-based

interactions and outdoor experiences, ArtMaps takes the museum

out of its walls” added Laura Carletti, Horizon Research Fellow.

“In fact ArtMaps promotes a new way of looking at art through its

relationships with places, and, vice versa, facilitates the perception of

places through their relationship with art.”

ArtMaps is an open source platform and freely available to be


For further information, please contact:

Dr Laura Carletti



ArtMaps: Exploring the relation between art and place

“By opening new

opportunities to engage

the public in novel ways

such as Web-based

interactions and outdoor

experiences, ArtMaps

takes the museum out

of its walls”