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Opening our Collections with Wikipedia

by e.m.i.


wikipedia , permanent collection , wikipedian in residence , intern

The Cincinnati Art Museum’s permanent collection is getting easier to explore thanks to new Wikipedia content.

Wikipedia is a common resource for anyone looking to learn about an artwork, artist, or genre and one of the first results in any web search. It’s the largest and most accessible reference work ever created, and it is growing every day.

Now, with the help of its first Wikipedian in Residence, CAM’s presence on Wikipedia is getting some much-needed attention.

Nat Green joined the museum team in February, working with the museum’s Digital Content Manager in the marketing department. Green is a Library and Information Science Masters student at Kent State with a deep interest in Cincinnati art and history. She is also an avid Wikipedian, with nearly 300 articles written over the past 15 years.

"As an Art Academy alum, I am very familiar with CAM and its collections,” said Green. “It has long been a dream of mine to get CAM more of the recognition it deserves on Wikipedia.”

As CAM’s Wikipedian in Residence, Nat is addressing three main goals:  improving the quality and scope of coverage on CAM and its collection, writing or improving articles about works in CAM’s collection, and making it easier for curious visitors to get a sense of what CAM has to offer.

Green is working on improving the visibility and connectivity of CAM and its collection, so anyone who encounters an article related to CAM knows where to look for more. And she will pursue these goals in a way that fills gaps in Wikipedia’s coverage.

Achieving these goals will not be easy. Wikipedia has strict standards for new articles, edits, and the sources they are based on. These standards rule out much of CAM’s unpublished archival materials and the less well-known art and artists in the collection. Complicated copyrights can also limit what is eligible to include in the project.

“It’s not as straightforward to contribute to Wikipedia as people may think,” said Green, “at least not in constructive and lasting ways.”

Green’s residence isn’t CAM’s first project with Wikipedia. The museum has organized two Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon events in 2019 and 2016, with specific attention to women artists and Black artists, respectively.