The exterior of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture, home to the Smithsonian American Art Museum . (Photo by Tim Hursley/Smithsonian Institution.)

The Smithsonian American Art Museum is leading a group of 14 institutions from around the country in an effort to build a shared, and searchable, online database that could spur research and scholarship about American art.

One of the first in the nation to make its entire collection available through Linked Open Data (or LOD), SAAM received a grant from the Andrew M. Mellon Foundation to create the American Art Collective to expand the project to other museums.

“Art museums share a commitment to helping audiences of all ages experience, learn about, appreciate and enjoy art – thus our missions also include promoting access to our collections and research,” SAAM director Elizabeth Broun said in a statement.

The 14 partners will meet Wednesday and Thursday at SAAM to begin the process of building the database. While the American Art Museum has already converted its data to LOD, many of its partners are just beginning. No deadline has been established, and how the data will be accessed is still being determined, said Eleanor Fink, the collective’s manager.

The National Portrait Gallery and the Archives of American Art, both part of the Smithsonian Institution, are part of the initiative, as are three university-based museums: the Princeton University Art Museum, the Yale Center for British Art and the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine. The other partners in the American Art Collective are the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Tex., the Autry National Center in Los Angeles, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Crystal Bridges, Ark., the Dallas Museum of Art, the Thomas Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Okla., the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.