V&A launches new developer API


Digital Media
April 15, 2021

Highlights

The API (Application Programming Interface) allows you to explore the collections via programmatic means, making available our data for the exploration of art and design history, by using data science tools. Over the last year we have completely rebuilt our API to support the launch of Explore the Collections. We’ve been able to develop new ways for you to interact creatively with the V&A’s data – but also to enable finer control over collection search.

There are some big differences between our old and new API, and many smaller additions:

  • New query endpoints for clustering results together for data overviews
  • Different response types that allow for a quick start in exploring the data
  • Improved documentation, with openapi specification and detailed developer docs
  • 470,000 IIIF manifests, enabling rich access to image-based resources available for re-use under the V&A terms and conditions
Kleeblatt (Dibias) computer-generated print by Herbert W. Franke, 1989 or 1990. Mus no. E.1021-2008 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London / Herbert W. Franke

Explore the new V2 API

For more details and code examples on how to use the API, see our developer site.

Cultural heritage data can be complex to explore. Every aspect of an objects’ history can be a world in itself to discover, which can make it hard to find a starting point in the data (with or without an objective in mind). Our new guide provides an overview of the API, along with some worked examples of Data Explorations on topics such as water lilies, machines in the eighteenth century and the ladies of Edinburgh (from 1865 to 1880 only).

We hope these will provide a springboard for exploration, enabling you to develop your own ingenious ways of visualising our collections data. Please do let us know about your creative inventions with the API by raising an issue in our documentation repo on Github.

The old API

API 2.0 is now the preferred version. The old API (released in 2009) will remain functional, but we (strongly!) encourage you to explore the new features available. We have transferred many of the V1 parameter terms across to make the transition smoother.

More on tech architecture

We will be posting details about the technical architecture behind the new Collections site over the next few months.

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