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OH-SMArt – Oral History Stories at the Museum around Artworks

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dr. Sanneke Stigter

Oral History – Stories at the Museum around Artworks’ (OH-SMArt) is a long term initiative to significantly improve the digital research chain around using Oral History and spoken narratives, with research into artworks and museums as a use case.


Museums have to contend with a serious shortage of digital tools. Additionally, the procedures applied to make recordings of spoken stories about art available are very time-consuming. This is partly due to a lack of applicability and compatibility of technical tools, and to the sometimes highly sensitive information involved. As a result, a considerable backlog has arisen in the processing of this archive material, which is, in fact, a familiar problem within Oral History research.


The OH-SMArt project aims to significantly improve the digital research chain around Oral History. For example, recordings will be directly connected to an automatic time-coded speech transcription service, which will facilitate the unlocking and archiving of spoken stories about art, as well as automatic searching and linking. In addition to improving the workflow, new tools will be developed that are aimed at promoting reflection: user interpretations will be saved with the source material,  as a result of which the viewpoint of the researcher will be put into perspective. OH-SMArt will provide access behind the scenes at museums in a smart and accessible manner and contribute to the improvement of research within Oral History in general.


OH-SMArt is a collaboration between the University of Amsterdam, University of Twente, DANS-KNAW, Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, Stichting Open Spraaktechnologie (Open Speech Technology Foundation), and participating museums and institutions. The project will be financed until the end of 2024 via the Platform for Digital Infrastructure for Social Sciences and Humanities (Platform Digitale Infrastructuur voor Sociale en Geesteswetenschappen, PDI-SSH)



OH-SMArt curator interview Foto: © Marjon Gemmeke