Digital Views of Dublin

A Digital Artefact using open data images from the National Gallery of Ireland.

Photo by Andrei Carina on Unsplash

In 2021 the National Gallery of Ireland launched an online Creative Commons module, licensing the images of 1000 of the collection artworks for open download, sharing and use without the need to seek explicit approval from the gallery.

This digital artefact contains images from the 17th-19th centuries drawn from the gallery collection mapped in their original locations. A summary of the view depicted and points of interest is included beneath each of the images.


The Creative Commons Module is one of the first examples of an Irish National Cultural Institution providing open access to a substantial number of images from their collection. I wanted to investigate how this collection of images can be used, without cost and without complex technical knowledge to create new ways of presenting the collection. 

I explored possible digital artefacts, built on open source platforms. Among the images in the module, I noted there were paintings, drawings and prints depicting particular locations in Dublin and it came to mind that an interactive map would suit.

There have been several successful examples of interactive art maps using the proprietary ArcGIS Story Maps, and others developed by institutions with Google Arts and Culture. This map was created using StoryMap from Knightlab, an open-source tool developed at Northwestern University.

The map can be viewed on desktop or mobile devices, so it can be accessed as part of a walking or cycling route, taking in the locations.


The Knightlab suite of tools has a user-friendly interface that is intuitive and easy to use. The background, fonts and appearance can be modified using drop-down menus and the user can switch the Map type in the same way. I decided to use the open street maps view because it also shows other locations of interest in the vicinity and can contextualise the area. I changed the fonts, background colour and changed the font color and style using the html editing options within the text box in the Story Maps Authoring tool. More technical modifications can be made by editing the javascript and css code, although easy to follow instructions are provided for this.


The images available with a creative commons licence are limited to 1000, and many of the Gallery’s most well-known works are not included. This is particularly true for the modern works which are still in copyright until 70 years after the death of the creator.

I would have loved to add some of the brilliant and evocative works depicting Dublin in the collection such as The Liffey Swim by Jack B. Yeats but it was not possible.

Given the limited selection, it was challenging to create a route that had regular ‘stops’ and could be navigated as a walking tour.

Photo by Gabriel Ramos on Unsplash


The concept could be further developed by including audio clips for each location, with narration and even archival sound clips relevant to the location where available.

It would also be possible to embed video clips or before/after image sliders using the Knightlab Juxtapose tool to enhance the experience.