The challenge

Royal Armouries is home to the UK’s National Collection of Arms and Armour, National Artillery Collection, and National Firearms Collection. It operates across three sites: the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, Fort Nelson near Portsmouth and at the White Tower within the Tower of London.

Royal Armouries needed to make information about its collections across its sites more accessible to the public. As part of a major initiative, several new systems were procured to help manage its collections, archives, digital assets and libraries. The Armouries then needed to make these systems work together, to improve its back office processes. A new layer of software was needed to bring together data from all these systems into a common structure and present this in a visually appealing way.

What we delivered

We were selected by the Royal Armouries to provide the middleware component, working in partnership with Gooii on the web interface.

The resulting Royal Armouries online collection is based on our CIIM product which consumes Archives and Object data from the EMu collections management system via its API, including references to master images stored on the file system. It also consumes bibliographic information from the Koha library management system using the OAI-PMH protocol. The data is modelled to aid information retrieval and published via an Elasticsearch index.

Master images are retrieved from the file systems and renditions of various sizes, with watermarks applied, are pushed to a public image store for use by the web interface. Pyramid TIFFs enable users to zoom in to view images in superb detail.

In April 2015 the collection was released to the world, providing information about 140,000+ military, hunting and sporting items reaching as far back in time as 2000 BC and as far afield as Asia and Africa.

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