Museum and art-gallery curators have long had specialist collection management systems to facilitate access to works of art that were not available to the general public. The increasing availability of aesthetic images on the World Wide Web, however, especially through museum and gallery web pages, went hand in hand with an increasing sophistication of search paradigms. Retrieval methods have, in a literal and metaphorical sense, become multi-faceted. Art image retrieval can, depending on the retrieval task, draw to a greater or lesser extent on a rich body of expert knowledge from the domain of art history. We have conducted an exploratory study analysing the use of query terms for the same set of target images among a group of art specialists and laypersons. The survey suggests systematic and identifiable similarities and differences between the two groups.We argue that this finding needs to be considered in the design of image retrieval systems that are tailored to art collections.
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