Agora project




Research organizations
VU History department, VU Computer Science department
Cultural heritage
Rijksmueum Amsterdam, Sound & Vision (Dutch public TV archive

Period & budget

1 May 2009 - 1 May 2013

Total NWO subsidy: 653.8 Keuro
VU Computer Science: 453.2 Keuro



Agora will develop a social platform in which museum objects can be placed into an explicit (art)historic context. Using objects from the extensive collections of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and the Dutch national audiovisual archive Beeld en Geluid as a starting point, Agora focuses on (1) the analysis of current museum annotation practices and (2) the meaning of historical narrative in the modern Web-based collection access. Historic events will be used as a flexible model to identify semantically relevant relationships between objects in highly diverse museum collections, creating meaningful 'cause' and 'effect' links along the key dimensions 'who', 'what', 'where' and 'when'. In this way, Agora is aiming at a community curated historic event thesaurus linked to museum artifacts. Pilot studies will investigate how multiple users' views on the annotation and events data can be supported and can feed back into the museum. This should finally support the (re)interpretation process of history research, allow end-users to create their own personal narratives, and lead to theoretical reflection on the meaning of digitally mediated public history in contemporary society. Agora will thus be more than "just" a technological tool. It intends to develop a social platform where both the general public and expert historians can literally write history by challenging existing canons based on multiple interpretations of historical events and how they relate to one another. As such, Agora will be the first research project that experiments with, and theorises about, digitally mediated public history.

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