Welcome to the ArtBase query service

From Rhizome Artbase

...or learn more below.


The new Linked Open Data (LOD) infrastructure of the ArtBase enables users to ask new and more nuanced questions of the archival data—questions that go beyond simple keyword search or faceted categories. Rhizome uses Wikibase as its LOD database software, which allows ArtBase data to be stored in RDF, a format based on semantic “triples.” These “triple” data statements facilitate the posing of complex questions to the database through a query service.

The query service is a SPARQL✨ endpoint with a graphical user interface. SPARQL is short for “SPARQL Protocol and RDF Query Language.” The query service allows users to query and visualize the data in real time through a variety of approaches, such as tables, image grids, charts, maps, and more. These visualizations can be excellent ways to access the archive and discover new artworks, as well as information about artworks, artists, and software. The ArtBase query service is a customized endpoint, based on the standard service provided by Wikidata, the largest public instance of the Wikibase software.

A screenshot of the interface of the ArtBase query service

If you’re familiar with SPARQL or Wikidata’s own query service already, access the ArtBase query interface. Alternatively, browse the examples below and learn more about creating your own queries.

Examples of Data Visualizations from the ArtBase

Once you open one of the example pages from the list above, you will see the data rendered inside an iframe. There are various ways to interact with these data visualizations and follow links to different parts of the database. It is also possible to modify the queries to get different results. If you click on the Rhizome logo in the bottom left corner of the iframe rendering the data visualization, you will be taken directly to the query service interface. Modifying existing queries can be a helpful way to learn how to use the query service.

Create Your Own Queries

We encourage all ArtBase users to explore the database by creating their own queries and research questions.

There are two primary ways to interact with the ArtBase query service:

  1. To construct queries visually, via the Query Helper interface, or
  2. To write your own queries from scratch.

Option one is a good way to get started and explore the potential of the LOD structure of the ArtBase. Option two is suitable for more advanced users. It is also possible to combine the two approaches by constructing a query using the Query Helper, and adding to it manually.

The User Guide provides a tutorial on how to get started writing your own queries using this hybrid approach.

You can also review more advanced tutorial materials prepared by Wikidata:

Please note that these tutorials are designed to operate within Wikidata’s own version of the query service, and follow Wikidata’s specific data model. Various elements in the Wikidata query service differ from Rhizome’s instance, notably the use of different default prefixes when constructing queries.

Federation and Advanced Queries

Once you are able to write SPARQL queries from scratch, you can take advantage of the shared protocols of LOD to query data not only within a single resource, such as the ArtBase, but also across multiple and heterogeneous data stores. This is usually referred to as federation. For example, you can create queries that federate Rhizome’s Wikibase with other public Wikibase instances like Wikidata. This is particularly useful for finding data that may be outside the scope of the ArtBase, but still relevant to the artworks within it, such as data related to physical locations, people, or software, to name just a few possibilities.

Examples of federated queries:

The key requirement when writing such queries is to specify all the relevant prefixes relating to specific namespaces that the query should address. While Rhizome’s ArtBase prefixes and associated namespaces are built-in as the defaults in our query service, other resources outside the ArtBase, such as Wikidata, or various other semantic web authority databases, will need to be manually specified. As shown in the examples above, the wdqs prefix can be used to formulate federated queries with Wikidata.