Everything about Mona Lisa
Joconde is the collective catalogue of collections of museums in France. Discover here its ambition, its history, its variations and its connections with other cultural reference websites.
Joconde, a collective catalogue of collections at the service of museums in France
Built up over the centuries, the collections of France’s museums area remarkable wealth More than 121 million objects (of which more than half concern natural history) in more than 1200 institutions. Because of their abundance and distribution throughout the national territory, these collections can be sometimes difficult for the public to understand. The Ministry of Culture has therefore undertaken to implement a collective catalogue of the collections of museums in France since the mid-1970s. In order to make it accessible to everyone, this catalogue was published on Minitel in 1992 and on the Internet in 1995.
Any museum, since it benefits from the appellation "Musée de France" can contribute to this, whatever the nature of its collections: archaeology, decorative arts, fine arts, ethnology, history, science and techniques...
This catalogue takes the form ofA national database that consolidates and makes accessible in the form of pictorial records the inventory sheets submitted by museumsAs stated in the Law of 4 January 2002, "the collections of museums in France are inscribed in an inventory". The collections, on display or in storage, are therefore identified, described and documented piece by piece. This work results froma patient study, systematic and in-depth collections by museum scientific staff. It is more and more often done using a computer tool. Many of these tools have features to export records and images to the national collective catalogue. Museums that have such tools are therefore invited to contribute to the collective catalogue of collections of museums in France.
The online presentation of the collections, on display or in storage, is part of an educational and humanistic tradition assumed by museums since their creation at the end of the 18th century.
It also allows museums to assume three of their missions permanent:
- making their collections accessible to the widest public;
- design and implement education and dissemination measures aimed at ensuring equal access to culture for all;
- to contribute to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge and research.
The collective catalogue is constantly being enriched. Existing object records are regularly completed or updated. Since October 2018, payments and updates to Joconde’s records and images are made directly by the museums through POP, open heritage platform.
The notices returned by the museums can be more or less long, according to the information available to the museum, or that it wishes to publish. Images of works that are not in the public domain are not included in the catalogue, unless there is a contract for the transfer of royalties free of charge.
Natural history samples are not intended to be integrated into the Mona Lisa database. They are e-ReColNat, a tool specifically adapted to these types of collections.
For more than 45 years serving the public and researchers
1975 - 1979: creation by the Ministry of Culture of various specialized databases: paintings, Egyptian antiquities, sculptures, ethnographic objects...
Joint elaboration of descriptive systems associated with these bases: «Description system of paintings» (1977), «Description system of sculptures» (1977), «Description system of French domestic objects» (1977), «Description system of French traditional costume» (1984), «Description system of classical antiquities» (1984)...
The feeding scheme of the bases is as follows: the information concerning the works is transcribed on paper slips by temporary workers. These slips are validated by the custodian, before being sent to a specialized input workshop. The data entered are checked centrally (syntax and lexical controls) before loading into the database. This rather cumbersome process makes it difficult to modify information.
The system will only accept capital letters that are not accented.
- production, on the occasion of the Year of Heritage, of a first videodisc (Thomson laser) associated with the base of the paintings: collections of the Longchamp museums in Marseille, the small palace of Avignon and the palace of Versailles.
- the Réunion des musées nationaux publishes the inventory of paintings of the Palace of Versailles, based on the computer records of the base of the paintings; 58 microfiches are associated with this paper volume.
1981: release of the first official version of François Garnier’s iconographic thesaurus, after several years of practice on various types of collections.
1983: the database of paintings and, since 1979, drawings, takes the name of Mona Lisa. It lists 23,000 records. The sculpture database is called Carrara.
- creation, at the request of the city of Aurillac, of the first computer tool for managing museum collections (Micromusée).
- creation, by the Ministry of Culture, of the Vidéomuséum application, on the occasion of the exhibition «Old and new».
This revolution, permitted by the emergence of micro-computing, will lead DMF to reconsider the process of feeding the Joconde and Carrara databases.
- The Rhône-alp es cultural group combines a videodisc with its database (Videralp project);
- the Crozatier Museum, in Puy-en-Velay, publishes the inventory of his paintings, made directly from the records of the Joconde base.
1989: the direction of the museums of France undertakes the progressive fusion of three central bases: Carrara, Estampes and Joconde. Descriptive systems are also merged. The administrator and managers of the new database, which retains the name of Mona Lisa, will also undertake the conversion of all records into rich spelling.
The information in the database remains reserved for a few insiders. To broaden their dissemination, the team responsible for Joconde undertakes a promotion action with specialized libraries and publishers. The number of interrogations then increases, culminating in a few dozen per month.
1992: In June, Mona Lisa will be on Minitel and will now broadcast her information free of charge to a national audience. The number of queries quickly increased to several hundred per month.
- the DMF, with the help of the Institut national de recherche en informatique et automatique (INRIA), is carrying out the first ever virtual exhibition (“The Enlightenment in the Painting of Museums in France”). During the following year, other virtual exhibitions will be implemented by the DMF: «Émail treasures» with the Bishop’s Museum in Limoges, «Prix de Rome» with the ensba, «Goupil Museum in Bordeaux», «Masterpieces of the Fine Arts Museum of Bordeaux»
- Joconde inaugurates its image version on Minitel with the masterpieces of the Fine Arts Museum of Bordeaux.
- in the course of the year Mona Lisa receives 5,923 requests by Minitel.
- first import of records into Mona Lisa from a tool for managing museum collections (Micromuseum: export of Rome prices of painting of the ensba).
- In June, Mona Lisa goes on the Internet.
- the Lower Normandy Federated Section of the General Association of Conservators launches the first regional Internet site, hosted on the CRIUC (Centre de Calcul de l'Université de Caen) server.
- Publication by DMF of the "Method of Computer Inventory of Objects" to describe all types of fine and decorative arts objects.
1996: launch of the first call for projects of the national digitization plan.
1997-1998: beginning of the integration of images in Mona Lisa. At the end of 1998, there will be nearly 2,000, for 124,787 records.
- Speeding up the Mona Lisa image feeding process. As of December 31, Mona Lisa has 136,408 artwork entries, including 13,673 with one or more images. Joconde received 46,111 queries over the course of the year via the Internet. The progression of queries went up in subsequent years. The Minitel version continues to be surveyed: 6,242 searches during the year.
- the DMF implements three national databases: Archeos (ancient and archaeological objects), Ethno (European and extra-European ethnological objects, techniques and scientists) and Mona Lisa (objects of fine arts and decorative arts).
2000: Joconde received 147,754 requests over the course of the year via the Internet.
2001: During the year, the three national databases received 363,886 requests via the Internet.
2002: at the end of this year, Archeos has nearly 12,700 records and nearly 2,000 images from 26 museums in France, Ethno has nearly 16,200 records and nearly 8,000 images from 23 museums in France and Mona Lisa has nearly 134,000 records and nearly 25,000 images from 71 museums in France, of which 18 new participants. During the year, the three national databases received 756,054 requests via the Internet.
2003: 16 new museums put records of their collections in one of the three national bases. They receive 1,928,823 requests over the course of the year via the Internet.
- Some publishers adapt collections management IT tools to the new regulations, under the control of DMF. A new step in the process of making collections information systems consistent has been taken. - publication of Danièle Brochu’s «Manuel pratique d'informatisation», based on four case studies: ecomusée de la Grande Lande, musée des pays de Seine-et-Marne, ecomusée de Fourmies-Trélon, departmental conservation of the Ain countries.
- fusion of the Archeos, Ethno and Mona Lisa bases. This base retains the name of Joconde, which is then the best referenced and most questioned of the three, and becomes the collective catalogue of the collections of the museums of France. As of December 31, 2004, Mona Lisa has 187,184 records, 50,800 of which are illustrated with at least one image from 135 museums.
2005: the growing demand for advice on the computerization and digitization of collections, computerized proofing... leads the DMF to put online technical sheets on these different topics.
- Joconde is one of the founding foundations of the Culture Collections engine.
- 15 new museums put records of their collections in Mona Lisa. It lists 346,850 records, 177,700 of which are illustrated by at least one image. It receives 2,787,828 requests during the year.
2007: 17 new museums put records of their collections in Mona Lisa. It lists 366,000 records, including 195,000 with at least one image. During the year, it receives 7,383,598 requests.
2008: 17 new museums put records of their collections in Mona Lisa. It lists 400,960 records, including 220,635 with at least one image. It received 15,574,203 requests during the year.
2009: 23 new museums put records of their collections in Mona Lisa. It lists 421,339 records, 239,610 of which are illustrated by at least one image. It receives 26,756,992 requests during the year.
- the Collections engine becomes the national aggregator of the Europeana database. Pouring your collections into Mona Lisa is now the easiest way to be present on Collections and Europeana.
- as a complement to the collective catalogue of the collections of museums in France, the French Museum Service lists the various sites where museum collections are put online, whether in the form of databases or virtual exhibitions. Initially limited to France, this work was expanded abroad.
- 45 museums in France, including 14 new ones, are participating in Mona Lisa with the payment of 20,928 new notices with images and the updating of 6,813 notices.
2011: the Mona Lisa site is getting a makeover. On this date, Mona Lisa represents:
- a database, a collective catalogue of the collections of museums in France, with nearly 500,000 records and nearly 300,000 images from more than 250 museums in France. In the first eight months of 2011, the catalogue received nearly 18 million questions from nearly 650,000 sites and the images were viewed at 4,400,000 full screen.
- 90 guided tours (virtual exhibitions, thematic tours, zooms), to make the most of the funds donated to the catalogue;
- a professional space with 200 pages of information, mainly for museums.
2017: the Joconde site adapts its graphic design; its professional space integrates the issue of documentation of collections
2019: transfers and updates of records and images of Mona Lisa are made directly by the museums through POP, open heritage platform.
2020 : the Mona Lisa site migrates its resources to the Museums of Culture website.gouv.fr
Sites associated with Mona Lisa
The Mona Lisa database belongs to a true ecosystem. "Associated" sites are sites that harvest, relay, supplement or interconnect with information from the Mona Lisa database.
It may be about institutional sites offering information complementary to that of the Mona Lisa base, or encompassing collections of a broader scope than that covered by the Mona Lisa base.
It may also be experimental sites in the domain of the semantic web seeking to renew the navigation and the contribution on cultural contents, in this case the notices and images paid by the museums of France.
POP, open heritage platform
Records of the Mona Lisa database on POP
A product under construction, the POP platform allows professionals to build and maintain a reservoir of information certified by government departments through interoperable and easy-to-use tools. It must also allow free consultation of all textual and photographic resources and their reuse by other applications through a sharing, total or partial, in open data. Data from the most popular national databases of the Ministry of Culture feed the POP test tank: Joconde, Mémoire (photography), MNR (catalogue of stolen works), Mérimée (architecture) and Palissy (objects).
Since October 2018, the Mona Lisa records are all available in POP. The uploading of new notices is now done directly by the museums, exclusively in this interface.
The records of the Muséofile database, a directory of museums in France, and the Rose-Valland database are also available on POP.
The experiment aims in particular to facilitate access to French cultural resources for new audiences and makes a significant contribution to linguistic diversity by developing the multilingual offer of the Ministry of Culture, However, it is not necessary to translate the data since they find their equivalent through Wikipedia.
It gives access in 14 languages (French, English, Italian, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Catalan, Basque, Breton and Occitan), to more than 300,000 illustrated records taken from Mona Lisa, catalogue of the collections of museums in France.
It also allows to explore new forms of navigation within online cultural resources, to experiment with collaborative indexing and to supplement the information of Mona Lisa with data from the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, popular with the public (more than 20 million French visitors per month). This experiment will serve as an example for other heritage Internet sites and will modernize the tools used within the department to handle cultural resources.
Iconolab is a contributory platform through which users can explore and annotate collections (collections) of images provided by several museums and referenced in the Mona Lisa database.
On this platform, it is possible to cut out details of an image and assign keywords to make an annotation. Other users of the platform can then exchange, debate and evolve these annotations.
The Iconolab experiment aims to:
- to experiment the collaborative contribution on incompletely documented iconographic collections, preserved by public institutions, museums of France participating in the project, and published in parallel on the Mona Lisa basis, collective catalogue of collections of museums in France;
- collect contributions on objects, whole images or details, in the form of annotations (keywords, comments) that are self-assessed, evaluated or peer-reviewed;
- to experiment with the validation of data from the contribution through the evaluation by the contributors themselves and their peers through metrics to cross-check confidence indices (relevance and reliability);
- co-build validated datasets that participating museums can integrate into their computerized systems, according to their needs and their own selection criteria.
Advanced search of the old Mistral diffusion system
The Mona Lisa site closed in July 2022. All Mona Lisa records are available on POP.
From 1995 to the end of 2018, the collective catalogue of collections of museums in France was administered and put online on a technical interface called Mistral.
The Ministry of Culture has replaced this tool by the open heritage platform in October 2018. As a result of this change, no new records or images are added to Mistral since August 2018.
The advanced search features under Mistral are not quite identical under POP (consideration of semantic relationships, visual display of controlled vocabularies...). Thus, in a transitory way, the Mistral interface remains in service, for simple consultation.
Mona Lisa blog
The blog Joconde is a space for exchanges and contributions set up since September 2011 by the office of digital dissemination of collections, under-directorate of collections, service of museums of France (Ministry of Culture).
The blog is dedicated to museum and heritage professionals. It has 1148 subscribers as of July 8, 2019.
It aims to enable museums to:
- to exchange, among themselves or with the administration, on subjects such as documentation, computerization, digitization and on-line publication of collections, computerized inventory and proofing of museum collections,
- to disseminate feedback in these areas,
- capitalise on experience,
- keep users up to date on the Mona Lisa site and the sector.
More than half of France’s museum collections are about natural history. Naturalist collections represent a considerable challenge in terms of threats to biodiversity and knowledge gaps. The e-ReColNat database aims to accelerate the inventory of global biodiversity, as well as the development and calibration of predictive models of flora and fauna changes under the impact of global changes. For this purpose, naturalist samples are collected on the e-ReColNat database, which contains more than 8 million records and 7 million images. The representations concerning natural history (vellum, watercolours, sculptures.) are intended to be integrated into the Mona Lisa base.
Site Rose-Valland National Museums Recovery
Base records on POP
At the end of the last war, many works recovered in Germany were returned to France because some clues (archives, inscriptions, etc.) suggested that they came from it. Most of them were quickly returned to their owners by the Nazis. Others were sold by the Domains, while others were entrusted to the custody of the national museums. They are what are called NMRs, "National Museums Recovery".
The Site Rose-Valland Musées Nationaux Récupération is divided into two distinct parts and offers:
- the directory of NMRs on deposit in French museums,
- Historical documentation consisting of reference works, a selection of French legal texts and major international conventions and a page of links to French and foreign websites. These pages mention many works that are not MNR.
On the legal level, defined by the decree of 30 September 1949, MNR works do not belong to the State which is only the provisional holder. They are therefore not part of the public collections of museums in France and these works are not listed in the Joconde database. They are entered in specific inventories and wait for a possible restitution, without a limitation date to make the request.
Thematic site "Museums" of the portal of the Ministry of Culture
The Museums theme site of the Ministry of Culture website was redesigned in October 2018. It offers information and resources for a curious public (what is a museum of France, the network of museums of France, the collections, a "Dico des musées"...) as well as for professionals (networks, online catalogues, methodological files.). Some information from the professional area of the Joconde site (managing the computerization, computerizing the inventory and the proofing, managing the digitization) are now also accessible on the Museums site.
The Arcade database of the National Archives provides access to records and record books, as well as to photographic albums of the F/21 (Administration des Beaux-Arts) sub-series concerning the purchase of works of art (paintings, sculptures, art objects, prints.) by the State, their distribution in museums and public buildings (town halls, churches etc.). It thus traces the genesis and history of works of art acquired, commissioned or managed by the State and local authorities, from 1800 to 1969.
The alignment between the names of authors common to Mona Lisa and Arcade makes it possible to associate 153,000 records of works to 23,000 archival files. At the bottom of a Mona Lisa record, click on the link «This artist at the National Archives (base Arcade)» gives immediate access to the Arcade folder, and vice versa.
The repertoire of Italian Paintings in French public collections was undertaken in 2001 by the National Institute of Art History. It takes into account more than 13,000 easel paintings made between the 13th century and 1914. For each work, the emphasis is on three elements: attribution, provenance and essential bibliography (monograph, museum or exhibition catalogue). The copies were also listed as they reflect the history of taste.
In 2015, in RETIF, each work record kept in a museum in France was linked to the equivalent record in the Mona Lisa database. Conversely, more than 4,500 Mona Lisa records now include a link to the RETIF. This allows, from Mona Lisa, to bounce back to recent and accurate attribution and bibliography data. The INHA link in the "Additional source" field of the Joconde records concerned gives immediate access to the corresponding record in RETIF.
Base records on POP
Museéofile is the official directory of museums in France. The Museum Service of France, Directorate-General for Heritage, Ministry of Culture, is a national reference base for museums benefiting from the designation "Museum of France" within the meaning of the Heritage Code. A very limited number of institutions, not bearing the name "musée de France", such as those belonging to the Institut de France, are nevertheless included in this database. The database is updated by means of an annual national data collection campaign from museums in France. The Museéofile records are linked to those of Joconde, a collective catalogue of the collections of museums in France (thanks to the link "Collections du musée" on POP), when the museum is present on the collective catalogue of collections. Conversely, the Joconde records give immediate access to the descriptive record of the museum in question in Muséofile (thanks to the "Link Muséofile" on POP).
Sites of museums putting their collections online
When a museum of France, participating in Joconde, puts online its collections on its own site or a federated site, a link can be inserted in the Joconde notice to its counterpart in this local site. This is what was set up for the notices of the Department of Graphic Arts of the Louvre Museum.
In addition, it is possible for a museum to create a direct link from his website to his collections donated to Mona Lisa.
The search engine Collections of the Ministry of Culture allows to simultaneously query the collections of museums of France, the heritage documents of libraries, the archives, the monumental heritage and furniture, the archaeological sites... The collections engine provides access to more than 7 million documents and more than 5 million images.
The Joconde database is the aggregator of the Collections engine for museums in France. Entering data on the Mona Lisa database allows you to be automatically in the Collections search engine of the Ministry of Culture.
The Ministry of Culture’s open data platform provides access to freely reusable public information under the terms of the Open License v2.0 (Etalab). Since 03/04/2018, the French Museum Service has put online a dataset from the Joconde database, corresponding to 589.277 records.
As of 10/10/2018, the dataset of 592.034 records covers the following information: Former filing, Designation, Author, Date of acquisition, Date of filing, Discovery/ Collection, Name, Filing, Measures, Date of update, Date of import, Domain, School, Period/ style/ movement, Historical geography, Number, Museum of France, Place of creation/ use, Place of conservation, Vintage, Vintage of use, Identiant base Museofile, Onomastique, Author details, Period of original copied, Period, Period of use, Reference, Subject, Source of representation, Legal status, Materials and techniques, Title, Use.
Some other on-line information on the complete records of the Mona Lisa base may be subject to copyright, just as low-definition images illustrate them: it is therefore a limited and textual version of the records that constitutes this dataset. These can be exported in several formats: CSV, JSON, Excel, GeoJSON, ShapeFile and KML. The game can be used via an API that allows you to search and download recordings by several criteria.
The Europeana portal of the European Union aims to give access to all European cultural heritage. It contains almost 52 million works of art, objects, books, videos and sound recordings from all over Europe. The Europeana portal makes it easy to reuse this information for personal learning, work or simply for pleasure.
The Collections search engine of the Ministry of Culture is the aggregator of the Europeana portal for France. Entering data on the Mona Lisa database allows you to be automatically in the Collections search engine of the Ministry of Culture, which gives you the possibility to be visible on the Europeana portal.