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Implementation of IIIF for Natural History Collections

The CETAF Identifier specification provides a uniform way for people and machines to access textual data about specimens over the internet but one of the primary use cases is to access images of specimens. These pages document best practice for exposing specimen images using IIIF and why this approach is recommended. The initial development of these recommendations was carried out as part of an EU funded Synthesys+ Task 4.3 (2019-2021) which was part of the larger DISSCo initiative.

IIIF ([International Image Interoperability Framework]) is an exchange standard for sharing multimedia representations of objects on-line. It has been adopted by many institutions and commercial partners in the digital humanities community but, before Synthesys+ Task 4.3, was not used in the Natural History community.

There is quite a lot of information here so it is split across multiple pages.


  • IIIF Background - Why IIIF looks like the right fit for Natural History Specimens.
  • IIIF Framework - An overview of the IIIF Framework including the standards and organisation.



Case Studies


Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (E)

Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin (B)

Museum für Naturkunde Berlin (MfN)

Meise Botanic Gardens

Asociación Jardín Botánico La Laguna (LAGU)

Institute of Botany, Ilia State University (TBI)

Herbarium Rita & Eckhard Willing Herbarium

Finish Museum of Natural History (Luomus)

University of Leipzig, Herbarium (LZ)

NHM Vienna (W)

  • Status: Cantaloupe and IIPSrv are setup in a testbed Mirador vs. UniverslViewer are evaluated and final decision on server and viewer before Q4 2022.
  • Example CETAF ID: https://w.jacq.org/W0100330

University of Vienna, Herbarium (WU)