Yesterday IMLS gave a webinar explaining the methodology that went into compiling the 34,144 records in their recently released Museum Universe Database File (MUDF).

The big news isn’t so much the count, though that is important, as the fact that for the first time there is a publicly available, open source data set of US museums.

The MUDF data has already been imported into Github–a web-based hosting service for software development projects, and FactMiners.org launched an Open Source project to bring MUDF into the Neo4j graph database. This is the first step towards tapping the potential of this kind of public museum data. So take a minute to read (and view) a bit about graph databases and what they can do.

A graph database contains nodes and relationships, as well as data about the properties of these elements. So it is about how data points are connected to each other in various kinds of ways–including geographical relationships and social relationships. Here is a brief video from the founder of Neo4j talking about how you can use graph databases to detect patterns, embed information in maps, and overlay social data.

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