Commons:Wiki Loves Public Art 2013/FAQ

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This page holds the answers to common and frequently asked questions. For more general questions and discussions, use the talk page.

What kind of pictures do you want?[edit]

When we talk about public art we are referring to artworks that are out in the public space, for example in the streets and in parks and squares. The idea has been to target the artworks that everybody can reach and that people pass in their everyday life. This could be statues, war memorials, fountains, mural painting and so forth. What is included should be specified by the organizing team for each participating country based on the national legislation.

However, as many countries lack Freedom of Panorama and there just isn't that many old Public Domain artworks outdoors in parks and squares also public domain artworks within museums (see below) can be included in the contest if the national organizational team so decides (but no new artworks, they will be deleted!).

The national teams have to make a real effort to make sure that the pictures submitted for the contest falls either within Freedom of Panorama or that the photographed artwork is Public Domain.

Things to avoid to take photos of[edit]

Pictures of texts in connection to the artworks (such as plaques with descriptive texts, poems etc.) should not be photographed as they have their own copyright and most often does not fall within Freedom of Panorama (Germany, Portugal, Poland, Spain and Switzerland are notable exceptions).

How many pictures do you want?[edit]

When you take pictures of 3-D objects (such as statues) we encourage you to take pictures from many different angles and close-ups of interesting details to better illustrate the artwork. Ideally one overview picture from the different sides and a few close-ups of interesting details, signatures etc. We understand that it can be tricky sometimes to take more than one picture (because of time constraints, the location of the object etc.) and it is of course more than okay to upload a single picture! Thank you for helping out!

Getting a database of artworks outdoor is hard in our country! Do we have to?[edit]

Yes, even though it do take a bit of time and effort to get data for the database it is central to the contest. The database should be the base to determine what is included in the contest (i.e. the items to photograph, that the jury will look at). It should consist of datasets that has been compiled by external actor(s). For some countries this will be very easy while others will have to work a bit more. It is nothing wrong with starting with only a few geographical areas in a country this year as a pilot and then keep expanding the database for Wiki Loves Public Art 2014.

The database is needed to:

  • avoid original research;
  • be able to easily create lists on Wikipedia;
  • simplify uploading for the contributors (as we want as many new ones as possible this is very important);
  • get a good structure;
  • get an overview of what we have and what we are missing; and
  • be able to use all the tools for the contest (such as mobile apps and statistical tools).


  • getting lists take time and effort but is a great way of getting the cantons/regions to think a little bit about open and structured data; and,
  • a well structured national database is valuable in itself as a tool for for example researchers, the tourism industry and other actors.

Even if it is a rather short time left we really want to encourage you to try to add your country already in 2013 as this will increase the chances that we will get funding for organizing the contest also next year.

What databases should we then look for?[edit]

We suggest that you also look into if there is any organization that has a national list of some of the artworks. If you don't already know any possible databases we suggest emailing some art scholar or a GLAM that you have good contacts with and ask them if they know of any databases.

To give a few concrete examples: in Sweden there have been discussions with the National Public Art Council Sweden and they have a dataset that covers their own enormous art collection (that is nation wide) but it does not include the municipalities' art collections. This mean that if only their dataset would be included the database is far from complete. Therefore the municipalities are also contacted directly). In fact, Wikimedia Sweden have successfully applied for external funding to hire a person to work with this, and has also (rather easily) found volunteers, outside of the Wikimedia movement, that want to help getting this type of database in order (see Wikimedia Sweden's blog post about the database).

Another example is the Netherlands where they identified an organization that have a nation wide database of WW2 monuments, it is a very specific theme but that would be a good start if they participate as it has a good geographical spread.

Bringing Museums into the mixture - what will have to be done differently?[edit]

So you are thinking of including art displayed in museums, either in addition to outside works of public art or instead of them (because FoP isn't strong or clear enough in your country). If so there are a few things worth thinking of.

Not all museums are created equal[edit]

Note that not all museums will be OK for this part of the competition. Here are a few things to consider when looking for suitable candidates.

  • Public: In order for the artwork to still qualify as Public art the museum must be publicly accessible.
  • Art: Whilst a dinosaur skeleton might be a truly amazing sight most people would not regard it as art. What constitutes art is a non-trivial question so make sure to discuss it before and then limit yourselves to museums which contains such items. As a recommendation Is it's main (or only) purpose to be aesthetically pleasing or challenging? may prove a good starting point for such a definition.
  • Public Domain: This one is important. Only images of public domain art will be allowed. The first consequence of this is that Modern Art museums won't be very suitable as participating museums. The second consequence is that unless all of the art in the museum is in the public domain you need some way of showing the participants which artwork is OK and which isn't. If you are unsure then err on the side of caution, no-one likes to have their image deleted.
  • Photographers welcome: Finally you will have to pick a museum which allows competition participants to take pictures of their artwork. There might still be restrictions with regard to tripod usage and flash photography but what you don't want is some enthusiastic photographer to be thrown out or even banned from a museum.

Collaborate with a museum[edit]

The last two points mean that it is highly recommended that you find a museum who is willing to collaborate with you on this competition. Apart from making sure the photographers aren't thrown out this has other benefits.

  • The museum staff will often have a better idea of which works are in the public domain. It might be that they can recommend certain collections where all of the material is "safe".
  • They might be able to organise a special event such as a guided tour for photographers or day (or evening) when they open especially for photographers (this has happened before). Even if a museum doesn't normally allow photographers they may some time make exemptions for controlled events and also allow tripods.
  • They may be willing to donate a prize for the best picture of an object in their collection.
  • They may be able to explain how those seemingly random ID-numbers relate to articles on their web page or items in their database (more on this below).
  • It's a good way of starting a dialogue with the institution. Depending on how you organise things there is potentially little to no effort required from their side.

To sell this idea to the museums point out that the images will be tagged as depicting an artwork in their museum. If possible an image can link to the corresponding entry in their database. You can also mention the many successful collaborations documented over at Commons:GLAM.

Lastly two things not to forget:

  • Make sure there is participant interest in the museum. It's not good for either you or the museum if a lot of effort is spent on organising an event only to have no one show up (this has sadly also happened before).
  • Make sure the museum understands the implications of the default CC-BY-SA licensing. Especially that this will allow commercial use of the images, do however point out that they to are free to use any of the images.

Lists and IDs[edit]

The basis of the "normal" WLPA (and WLM) competitions are lists from official sources which are turned into lists on Wikipedia and then harvested to an internal database. For various reasons this approach may be less suitable for artworks in a museum.

  • The museum may not be able to (or want to) supply you with an official list.
  • If you do get a list there may be no way to separate objects in storage from exhibited objects or artwork from non-artwork.
  • There may be too many objects in the museum for a list to be feasible.
  • Such a list may be out of scope for the Wikipedia site in question.

There are a few approaches you may try such as limiting the list to a specific collection or artist or you may try to split the list in some other way (see e.g. List of works in the Louvre). If one of these approaches works for you then great the normal approach will work for you, just make sure to indicate if any of the artwork isn't in the public domain so that these aren't uploaded (you can skip to the next section if you want). If not you may have to do this without any Wikipedia lists.

It is still possible to run a competitions without the Wikipedia lists, it will however require more work organising. The key to reducing the amount of work is by using available ID numbers, just as you would if you did have a Wikipedia list. Check if the museum uses any identifiable IDs on or by their artwork. Check also if the museum uses these IDs on either their web page or in their database, this is a great way to add or verify information (including public domain status).

  • If you did get an official list (that wasn't turned to a Wikipedia list) and/or the IDs allow you to link to the museum collection; then the IDs allow you to use these for post-processing. You can add more information to the images, check for images that shouldn't be included (i.e. tagged with wrong museum or not in the public domain) etc. Depending on how the information was structured you may even be able to get a bot to do this.
  • If you had no such lists then the IDs can still be of help to let you identify different images of the same artwork. There may also come a time when the museum releases a list and if so you'll be prepared.

Can you run a competition even without IDs? Sure but again more work is required from both the organisers and the participants. Good upload information is the key to making this work. Title, artist, where in the museum the artwork is placed etc. will all have to be provided since these can rarely be added afterwards (unless the artwork is famous). As an organiser you'll also find that unless the provided information is good it is hard to identify images that shouldn't be included (e.g. from the wrong museum) or even images that should be deleted (because they aren't in the public domain).

Either way if you don't have Wikipedia lists then more information will have to be provided during the upload. You may want to consider making this an additional factor for the judges to consider (and make sure the participants know about it). It is also worth noting that without the Wikipedia lists most of the available tools (statistics, mapping etc.) won't work.

Summary (or Wow that was a lot of text, no way am I reading it all more than once)[edit]

  • Only public domain art!
  • Work with the museums
  • Make sure participants take note of any IDs (and include these in upload)
  • Link back to museum collections if possible
  • Lists on Wikipedia may have to be limited or may not be possible