Paul Mellon Centre

RA Chronicle 250
Building blocks:CaAnMeSrMc

Winner - 2019 Webby award, People’s Voice, in the Art category

Chronicle 250 is an online publication produced by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Each year’s exhibition catalogue was digitised, 250 scholarly articles were commissioned, and many hundreds of example artworks were chosen to illustrate the history of the exhibition. Digirati were commissioned to build the online version of this project.

Chronicle 250 screenshot for the year 1953

We used our enrichment pipeline to produce full text searchable digital versions of the 250 exhibition catalogues. Using a variety of natural language processing techniques and data sources we identified and tagged around 400,000 exhibitors listed in the catalogues, turning these printed names into working hyperlinks in the digital objects. This enables journeys of discovery through the catalogues and the content, with the user jumping in and out of the archival and web material, all linked through a set of indexes that enable exploration by subject specialists and the interested public alike.

Pages from Chronicle 250, showing the index

The catalogue for each year is opened from the corresponding article, using a simple viewer built using our Canvas Panel component, featuring a minimal search user interface and the all-important hyperlinks on content.

Page from Summer Exhibition catalogue showing hyperlinks

We also built some simple management tools for manual tagging and correction, to allow the Paul Mellon Centre to enhance the tag quality over time.

Digirati developed the website from designs by Strick and Williams and provided the supporting infrastructure and tools using some of our building blocks with additional development specific to the source material.

Discover more about this project in a technical description and an in-depth extended version.

Main image: John Singer Sargent, Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, 1885/86, oil on canvas, 174 x 153.7 cm. Collection of Tate (N01615). Digital image courtesy of Tate. Link