Harvard Art Museums

Exposing Museum Collections

IIIF Services

The Harvard Art Museums make their collections interoperable through several IIIF compatible services and tools. The museum’s services build on the Harvard libraries implementation of the IIIF image API on the Harvard Digital Repository Service (DRS). The Harvard Art Museums exposes collection image URLs and IIIF URIs to the DRS services as part of the dataset accessible through the museum’s API. In conjunction with exposing IIIF compatible image URIs the museums run a presentation service that exposes IIIF compatible manifests and collections. The museums manifest server is based on software that was developed for HarvardX.

The museums also provide access to more than 10,000,000 annotations. They are exposed as annotations lists in manifests and directly through the museums API.

Additional information on the museums implementation of IIIF and how to use it is at https://github.com/harvardartmuseums/api-docs#iiif.

IIIF Tools

To take advantage of the IIIF services, Mirador and deep zoom viewers have been integrated in to the museum’s website.

Mirador is available as a module in the museum’s publishing tool. The publishing tool is accessible to all users of the website via their account page. The publishing tool is used to design and construct multimedia narratives. Narratives built by the museums are accessed directly on the website as part of digital tools and special collections. Along with the builder integration, a version of Mirador is available at https://iiif.harvardartmuseums.org/viewers/mirador.

Deep Zoom

The museums encourage and support slow, close looking at art by providing high resolution images throughout the website. The museums use the OpenSeadragon viewer for its deep zoom capabilities and its native compatibility with IIIF image servers.


In May 2017 the museums launched a special collection website on the artist Christopher Wilmarth. The website includes his entire archive of studio files which describe how he constructed his artworks. The museums use the Mirador viewer to make the files available.


The museums use IIIF manifests to reconstruct artist sketchbooks. The Mirador viewer is used in book viewer mode so users can flip through each sketchbook page by page.


The museums experiment with IIIF on variety of displays and immersive environments including the museum’s Lightbox Gallery.

(IIIF in Action on Large Displays and Immersive Environments)

Three large scale IIIF images on the Harvard Art Museum's Lightbox Gallery
Dozens of items from the Harvard Art Museum's digitized collections, displayed in the Lightbox Gallery
9 images displayed in the Lightbox
Harvard staff explore an interactive classroom with projectors displaying IIIF assets on all walls