Meet the members Council: Júlia Katona

Author: Julia Katona

I was working at the Hungarian National Gallery (Budapest) when I had my first serious experiences in the field of digitisation in 2005–2006. At that time, our task was the implementation of an integrated collection management system for all the collections of the museum. From the 11th-century mediaeval stone carvings, through the special collection of the late Gothic winged altarpieces, to the 19th-century Hungarian historical paintings, and the installations of contemporary art: I had to manage all the visual and textual data of the objects conserved in the different departments of the museum.

The coordination of the whole process led me to the special field of museum informatics, which has been in the forefront of my professional interest since more than ten years. I have spent years harmonising information of various collections and objects as a museologist, art historian by profession. In parallel, I have done research on special art historical fields, in the domains of the ornamental art, the theory of ornament, the European pattern book collections, and the history of art education. My research interest in art history met my interest in museum informatics when I started working as the Head of collection and Curator at the Schola Graphidis Art Collection (Budapest) at the very end of 2014, in a special education-related collection.

Plate 33. La Plante et ses applications ornementales, Paris : Librairie Centrale des Beaux-Arts, High School Of Visual Arts, Budapest, CC BY-SA

My very first meeting with Europeana dates back to the years spent in the Hungarian National Gallery, when the institution took part in the AthenaPlus project. I could continue my work on same project in my next position, which is now my current role. In the last phase of the AthenaPlus project, I had the opportunity to participate in a very interesting experiment initiated and led by Regine Stein focusing on the enriched description of museum objects in LIDO, using the Getty thesauri. The consequences of this attempt were interesting, both on the collection side and for research, and led me to the elaboration of the more detailed standardised description of special object types like ornamental prints and plaster casts.

Plate 17. La Plante et ses applications ornementales, Paris : Librairie Centrale des Beaux-Arts, High School Of Visual Arts, Budapest, CC BY-SA

It might sound a little bit strange, but this initiative is very similar to the thematically arranged contents of the Europeana platform. So, what makes it so interesting for us? Europeana gets to a crossroad, where the quantitative approach of mass digitisation should turn into a kind of qualitative paradigm. It can be achieved by standardising the enriched description of objects as much as possible. In my opinion, this could lead to the recontextualisation of existing digital content, and could open the path for scientific research. When I submitted my application for one of the seats in the Members Council, I have campaigned for the thematic recontextualisation of the digital items published on Europeana. Since the interpretation and reinterpretation, contextualisation and re-contextualisation are the highlighted pillars of Europeana, I hope my contribution as an art historian, curator and researcher will be useful and constructive.