Case study

Victoria & Albert Museum

Using existing digital collections to tell stories in a variety of new and interesting ways.

VAM Hero

The challenge

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) has digitised collections (as IIIF), and viewers for displaying individual items from the collections. The V&A also has editorial requirements to use the digital collections in new and interesting ways. Previous projects have involved showcases in Google Arts and Culture. Different content requires different ways of telling stories, and it's far too expensive to commission and populate new narrative forms every time, and not practical to use Google Arts and Culture on a regular basis.

The solution

For the V&A, Digirati built reusable narratives - viewers, but with very specific user experiences - and plugins for our Manifest Editor that allow editors to load existing IIIF resources and build new content for those custom narrative experiences. You can see some examples of our experiments in form here.

The data that drives these narrative forms is in each case a IIIF Manifest. Anyone can build new stories with these tools, from any IIIF collections in the world. And the Manifest Editor framework can be extended, as new viewing experiences are developed, to capture any extra information required to drive new experiences.

The IIIF Manifests that drive the narratives are valid IIIF Manifests, but they are extended with custom behaviours so that when used in these environments, they include additional information to drive layout. For example, the different arrangements of panels shown in this slideshow are specified by custom behaviour properties in the Manifest that are ignored by standard viewers.

This dramatically reduces the cost of developing new stories, and even reduces the cost of entirely new viewing experiences, because the editorial UI and infrastructure are already present. If a new user experience requires a little extra information to render, the extensibility of IIIF allows us to add extra settings and hints for the custom viewers that will be ignored anywhere else.

Read more about storytelling from collections on our Medium channel

Further info on the latest version of our Manifest Editor on GitHub

Main image: Temple of the Sybil at Tivoli after Jacob Philipp Hackert (Rome, about 1777). Attributed to Giacomo Raffaelli (1753–1836), The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Link

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