You are browsing the archive for Featured.

Open & Hybrid Publishing: Collated resources

Lieke Ploeger - April 26, 2016 in eSpace, Featured

As one of the six thematic pilots in the Europeana Space project, the Open & Hybrid Publishing pilot explores increasingly open and hybrid forms of publishing. Such new forms disrupt traditional publishing structures, giving people the opportunity to become publishers themselves, and not just consumers of published content. The main goals of the pilot, which is led by Joanna Zylinska (Goldsmiths, University of London), are to make more people familiar with the available open cultural content (especially images), as well as to explore a new business model for open and hybrid publishing and share this model with others. In this blog you can find a summary of all relevant resources that the pilot has produced. photomediations

First of all, the model for open and hybrid publishing is demonstrated through ‘Photomediations: An Open Book, a creative online experience of a traditional coffee-table book filled with openly licensed images relating to different aspects of photomedia, as well as academic and curatorial texts. There is also an offline printed version of the written texts available, in the form of a scholarly reader. For those interested in using the model themselves, there is a downloadable brochure ‘A Guide to Open and Hybrid Publishing, which uses the open book as an example to outline possibilities and offer technical and business advice on how to put the model into practice. Around these outcomes, the pilot organised a series of educational activities, ranging from university classes to an online contest and the Hack the Book festival-cum-hackathon in January 2016. guide_2Openness is a core aspect of this pilot. The online version of the book has been built with open source code, and the images are drawn from various online repositories of open access material, such as Europeana, Flickr: The Commons, and Wikimedia CommonsWork also focused on promoting the social and cultural value of openness, and the idea of open access, especially in educational contexts. With the hybrid aspect in mind, possibilities for generating value or revenue were explored as well, such as making the book freely available online, but selling a paper edition next to it. Another major focus was organising the hackathon, the Hack the Book festival (22-24 January 2016) in Athens, which focused on creating a phygital (physical + digital) book from scratch by remixing and building upon open content from Europeana, and was preceded by educational demonstrations as well as an evening symposium on open book cultures.


Finally, the pilot is currently curating an exhibition, both online and physical, which will be a celebration of the possibilities of remixing open digital culture. Through an open call, people have been invited to submit still and/or moving image works that creatively reuse – in the form of mashups, collages, montages, tributes or pastiches – one or more original image files taken from Europeana. In this way, different user groups such as students, educators, artists and independent publishers will become familiarised with Europeana content and encouraged to get involved in reusing this content in a creative way. The material received in response to the call will form the basis of a virtual and a real-life exhibition later on in 2016, to be held online and in a real-life venue.

More information


The Europeana Space MOOC

Clarissa Colangelo - April 19, 2016 in eSpace, Featured

Europeana Space (a project that works on increasing and enhancing reuse of Europeana and other online collections of digital cultural content by creative industries especially) is developing a MOOC, a massive open online course, to be launched in the fall of 2016. The aim of the course is to share our experiences, the lessons learned during the project and the tools we have developed during the pilot activities of E-Space; but also what we learned thanks to the hackathons and the workshops that we held with creative professionals throughout Europe. We want to share all of this with students and teachers, professionals from the GLAM sector, event organizers and developers working on cultural heritage, with the aim to convince them of the importance of the creative reuse of digital cultural heritage and to show them that the steps to take and the tools to use to do so are within everyone’s reach.

mooc-580x348The information on the MOOC is always distributed on three different levels. The first is a general level that targets mainly cultural heritage amateurs, students and teachers: the education segment. Here we want to show our learners how easy it can be to move from a passive use of digitized cultural heritage – that can be simply searching for materials on repositories such as Europeana – to an active and proactive use, where everyone can contribute and share their own insights and new narratives built around this cultural heritage individually and/or with others. To give an example, in the first module of the MOOC (the Photography module) we show how teachers, using the storytelling tool that we developed, can create stories with materials that they can find on trusted web sources, and share them with their students. This can easily become a group assignment where students are asked to complement the teachers’ stories with their own chapters and materials.

On the second level, we target GLAM professionals. Learners will be taught how to access APIs, how to query the database from their own websites and to automate important processes for the stories they want to develop, how to create interactivity into their events, how to build components in their websites and refer to the technologies that we have developed. They also get guidance on how to use the E-Space technical space and its API, how to find interesting samples of code on Europeana Labs and they will have access to more readings on how to reuse Europeana contents and on Europeana creatives.

Lastly, the third level reaches out to developers. They will be able to search the MOOC to find the most technical information, e.g. a link to a certain API or a specific explanation; they will also have the opportunity to participate in forum discussions with people working with Europeana or from the GLAM sector. We hope this way to incite interesting discussions where knowledge from different sectors can be shared and learners can learn not only from us, but also from one another.


Within E-Space we also developed a website for education where it is possible to find pointers to almost everything that will also be in the MOOC. But we decided to develop a MOOC as well, because it provides more guidance through the steps of learning. The MOOC brings in the structure, discipline and an A to Z learning path necessary to learn and spur some action. It is, if you wish, a sort of guided tour through what we, the pilots of E-Space, have developed, experienced and learned.

More information on the MOOC is available from this website or from this recent presentation.

Clarissa Colangelo and Fred Truyen

Update on the Open Content Exchange Platform

Lieke Ploeger - April 6, 2016 in eSpace, Featured

Last summer Open Knowledge launched the Open Content Exchange Platform, a resource developed within the ESpace (Europeana Space) project that collects materials on the reuse of open cultural heritage content. It is incorporated in the Content Space (which is one of three spaces being developed in ESpace alongside the Innovation Space and the Technical Space), where you can find a variety of resources on licensing, IP and copyright. Since then, many new resources have been added, and there is a useful guidance document on the platform now available as well.


In this summary document on the Open Content Exchange Platform you can read more about the type of content available (which includes blogpost, reports, videos, presentations and much more) and the functionality of the platform, which has been built using Omeka (similarly to the OpenGLAM Open Collections page). Each resource is added as an item, with metadata for the title, description, identifier/url, creator, date, rights, format and type, and tagged with a number of keywords describing their content. Through the search interface, you can easily filter on specific content, or on specific tags. It is also possible to browse through the content, or a specific type of resources. All resources of our OpenGLAM Documentation page have also been incorporated – in the future, a version of the new platform will replace our Documentation webpage to provide a more user-friendly and updated overview.

To give you an idea of what has been added to the platform in recent months, here is a brief overview with some of the new resources in their respective categories:


  • A series of infographics by Podromos Tsiavos on orphan works, copyright & IP and the different value production models that can be used when dealing with digital cultural heritage content
  • IPR Guidelines – A guide to understanding copyright when reusing cultural data – Kennisland has partnered with Collections Trust to address questions that partners of Europeana Food and Drink have about Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). Though primarily intended for the partners of the Europeana Food and Drink project, the context and flowcharts in this publication are useful for several types of reuse of cultural data.


  • Open for Business – A look at how platforms and creators build successful endeavors around open digital content, by Sarah Hinchliff Pearson – the first in a series of six Medium articles exploring how creators, businesses, and nonprofits sustain themselves when they are giving their work away for free using CC licensing.
  • On the Commons – Blog on how the National Library of New Zealand added the first batch of 3500 open images to Flickr Commons, as well as their future plans for increasing this amount.



  • A Curated Object and a Disruptive e-Anarchive – Illustrated article by Kamila Kuc, introducing Photomediations: An Open Book – an experiment in ‘open and hybrid publishing’ undertaken in 2015 as part of the ESpace project.

espace header

Open Culture at Open Belgium

Lieke Ploeger - March 14, 2016 in eSpace, Events/Workshops, Featured

logo_bigLast month Open Knowledge Belgium organised the Open Belgium event in Antwerp – a one-day community-driven conference with talks, workshops and discussions around the state of openness in Belgium and abroad. One of the sessions was ‘Open Culture – How Wiki loves art and data’, which featured three talks around opening up cultural content.


In the first talk, Romaine of Wikimedia Belgium presented the Wiki Loves Art project, which they are starting up for Belgium. To boost Wikipedia content on Belgian art, and to raise awareness of the current underrepresentation of Belgian art and knowledge on the internet, they invite photographers and volunteers from Wikipedia to visit Belgian cultural institutions and take photos of collection pieces, which are then published online under an open license. This is not a replacement for digitisation efforts of museums, but a quick first step to get images online and boost searchable information on the artworks and collections. This summer there will be a contest to select the best images. Wiki Loves Art has been taking place in other countries as well.


Following on that, Alina Saenko and Barbara Dierickx (PACKED) talked about how they started working together with Flemish museums to publish the metadata of their art collections on Wikidata (with a CC0 license), and then make this dataset available as Linked Open Data (LOD). All artworks are for example given a persistent identifier, which allows for enrichment because the works can then be linked to other available data, providing more contextual information. Over 25.000 records of Flemish artworks have now been added.

Some great examples were shown of the new overviews that can then be produced, such as the lifecycle of an artwork, the history of ownership of artwork or the acquisition sources for a museum. In addition, Wikidata feeds into Wikipedia, which greatly increases the public outreach. In this whitepaper PACKED summarises how data managers in museums may publish collection data on Wikidata, and what benefits this can bring. More information on the project is available here.


The final talk focused on OpenGLAM: after a short overview of the initiative, we went into the two new resources have been developed last year: the Open Collections, a resource bringing together collections from around the world that provide digital scans or photos that can be freely used without any restrictions and the Open Content Exchange Platform, an online, publicly accessible platform  developed within the Europeana Space project to connect people to documentation on open licensing for both suppliers and users of open content. Then there was a brief overview of the ongoing work on the OpenGLAM benchmark survey results (the complete presentation on this was given a week earlier by Beat Estermann at the Vernetzte Welten conference in Austria – see full slides here), and more information about the local groups and their activities. Perhaps some day a new OpenGLAM local group for Belgium can be started up, as the open data community in Belgium seems quite active!


There were many other sessions at the Open Belgium event, on topics ranging from open science to open cities and data journalism: presentations of the other sessions are now available from




Hacking, designing and tinkering open cultural heritage in Finland

Sanna Marttila - March 3, 2016 in Contest, Events/Workshops, Featured, Finnish, Hack days

The Hack4FI – Hack Your Heritage hackathon was organized for the second time in the beginning of February 2016. Nearly 100 creative minds came together for an inspirational and creative weekend. Designers, artists, storytellers, software developers and cultural heritage experts were working with concepts ranging from ‘big dada’ to sauna culture, and all the way to viable business solutions!

image00More than 30 Finnish cultural heritage institutions had made open cultural data and content available for everyone to explore and appropriate (see the datasets here). The biggest release ever in Finland of open cultural content was done for the hackathon: the service released an open API that provides a way to perform searches and access metadata from nearly 9 million cultural objects and artefacts coming from Finnish cultural and memory institutions, as well as access over 200 000 openly licensed photographs.


“In my opinion opening collections is an important part of the mission of the publicly funded art and cultural institutions” Senior Planning Officer Sanna Hirvonen, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma

The hackathon weekend was organized around 10 different tracks that were facilitated by invited experts coming from different fields. These tracks included themes such as Digital Humanities, Art & Design, Digital Fabrication and Digital Storytelling. This year Hack4FI also partnered with the CreatiFI project, which organises Creative Ring Challenge Helsinki as a horizontal track where selected teams can win up to 50.000 euros to develop their idea further if the solution has business potential and you are using at least one of the offered FIWARE enablers.

“I took the Finnish Wartime photography archive terms-of-use clause: “you may not use the photographs to mislead people” as an invitation and inspiration to my Misleader project.” Artist, Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen


After the busy weekend of hacking, designing and cultural tinkering 20 teams presented their ideas, concepts and prototypes on Sunday evening. These presentations comprised a variety of innovative, creative and even a bit crazy concepts varying from tangible information visualization and 3D objects to flash mob experience for single people and ‘big dada’, to games and virtual museums. Most of the results of the hackathon were collected to the Hack4FI Hackdash, where one can also get a better overview of the concepts and follow their progress. (

The Hack4FI competition is on!

The hackathon was the kick off event for the Hack4FI – Hack your heritage 2016 competition that is looking for innovative solutions that creatively re-use open cultural data and show a potential in creating value for the society at large. The competition welcomes designs, artworks and services in various stages e.g. concepts, prototypes or working products. During the competition period there will be events in the partner organisations, and workshops to support and facilitate the teams to excel in the competition! To find more about the offerings please visit

In addition to the participants of the Hack4FI – Hack your heritage! hackathon all creative minds all around the world can take part in the competition with their project. The only criterion is that the submitted works should make use of open cultural data or content with a Finnish or Nordic origin (see the competition’s datasets here). The competition will be open for submissions until March 31st, 2016 (see the submission guidelines here) and the winners will be announced and awarded in the final gala on April 13th, 2016 in Helsinki, Finland.

Did you miss the fun at Hack4FI – Hack your heritage hackathon? See the short video of the weekend below:

Hack4FI – Hack your heritage from Open Knowledge Finland on Vimeo.

Open Marginalis: Medieval Manuscripts in Open Access

Kelly Fitzpatrick - February 29, 2016 in Featured, Guest Blog Post

This is a guest blog post by Kelly Fitzpatrick on Open Marginalis: a selection of digitized medieval manuscripts accessible under open use terms working to guide new users to open collections for casual and scholarly use (Open Marginalis, About).

Starting work on Open Marginalis, I wanted to solve a discovery problem. Institutions are choosing to make digital collections accessible under open use terms, but finding where to start can be tough for users at all levels, and knowing how to use that content can be even harder.

In action, Open Marginalis grew to function as selection of open collection highlights sourced from online resources within the scope of digitized medieval manuscripts. In this framework, the primary goal is to identify and feature selected content from open collections and aggregates like Wikimedia Commons, and share that work with the objective of highlighting open content produced by institutions – driving users back to collections through an accessible platform, and always linking back to source.

OpenMarginalis (1)

While earning my MLIS, I was interested in learning more about platforms for digital scholarship, and how those platforms can be used to boost collection access. In the final year of my MLIS, I had the opportunity to present Open Marginalis at the 2015 Simmons College Graduate Symposium as a work-in-progress under the title Open Marginalis: Medieval Marginalia in Open Access.  In the same year, I produced an overview of project goals, operations, and applied practices in OpenMarginalis: Tumblr as Platform for Digital Scholarship in Libraries, Archives, and Special Collections. In this piece, I wanted to both share applied practices for creating and growing with digital projects, and explore popular platforms like Tumblr as a place for digital scholarship.

For this project, I chose Tumblr as a platform that would support users at all levels of scholarship, while being able to reach the strong community of information institutions maintaining a presence on the platform. After years of learning more about Tumblr’s functionality as a casual user, I wanted to see how a platform that empowers users to curate information could be used as a tool for digital collections. Continuing work on Open Marginalis, I want to create a space where users can start their search – from someone looking for a place to begin their experience with digital collections in a familiar interface, to a seasoned researcher looking for something new to include in a publication that they’d like to share under open use terms. As the growing audience of Open Marginalis quickly approaches 5000 followers through Tumblr, I want to learn more about how online audiences are using Open Marginalis, and what they’d like to see more of in the future.

As a growing digital project, being able to take shape in tandem with project goals has been key to where Open Marginalis has moved since it’s start date. In the past six months, I made the decision to widen the scope of Open Marginalis from a project focusing more granularly marginalia shown in digitized medieval manuscripts, to digitized medieval manuscripts as a whole. While project goals have remained consistent, I’ve continued to experiment with different ways Open Marginalis can better improve access within its scope. For example, in late 2015, I put together a Browse by Institution page with the goal of enabling users to browse content by their source institution for a different discovery experience. More recently, I’ve started work on a Resources page for Open Marginalis with plans for future expansion – currently featuring a set of scope specific Wikimedia categories, from “Illuminated Manuscripts by Century” to “Illuminated Manuscripts by Style” as an accessible entry point for more open resources.

In future developments for Open Marginalis, I want to continue working on new approaches to supporting the visibility of digital collections, bolstering existing resources for growing audiences, and sharing applied practices from this digital project with more to come.


(Image: The British Library, Public Domain)


Think big, start small, move fast

Lieke Ploeger - February 24, 2016 in Case Studies, eSpace, Featured

How the York Museums Trust started opening up its collection – OpenGLAM Case study

More and more libraries, museums and other cultural institutions publish their collections online, often allowing users to reuse the material for research or creative purpose by licensing it openly. For institutions that start planning such a step, it may seem daunting at first: not all of their collection may be digitised, the metadata is not always perfect, copyright information is sometimes missing or the images have been taken a long time ago and are not of the best quality. Working towards having the perfect online collection is such a time-consuming process that it can get in the way of publishing any of the collection at all. Coupled with that is the fear that publishing raw, imperfect material online can damage an institution’s reputation.


Replica Roman Figurine, York Museums Trust, YORYM : 2006.2914

This case study by OpenGLAM describes how the York Museums Trust went about publishing their online collection, as well as the effect this had, including different examples of the reuse of their content. By publishing the collection fast, and allowing people to reuse their material, even though it was not yet perfect, they managed to engage with their audience, stimulate reuse and generate new interest in their collection and museums. It is exactly this type of approach (think big, start small, move fast) that Michael Edson, Associate Director/Head of Digital at United Nations Live Museum for Humanity, identified as on of the patterns that accelerates change in organisations last year at the Openlab workshop in December 2015 (see How Change Happens).

The study is based on an interview conducted with Martin Fell, Digital Team Leader at York Museums Trust and has been written within the frame of OpenGLAM’s current involvement in Europeana Space, a project that works on increasing and enhancing reuse of Europeana and other online collections of digital cultural content by creative industries especially. We hope that the story of how York Museums Trust opened up their rich collections can inspire other institutions to take steps in this direction, because, as Martin put it: “To just say the content is not good enough for us, and therefore no one can see it, did not sit right with me”.

Read the full case study here: OpenGLAM_Case Study_York Museums Trust_Feb2016

The Pirate Book: Read Me

Lieke Ploeger - February 11, 2016 in Events/Workshops, Featured

Last week at the transmediale festival for art and digital culture in Berlin the launch of The Pirate Book took place. This work aims to offer a broad view on media piracy, re-evaluating the issues surrounding the topic through a visual essay and anthology of global stories about sharing, distributing, and experiencing cultural content outside the boundaries of local economies, politics, or laws. sorry_were_open_800

As Marie Lechner writes in the Preamble, the term piracy nowadays refers to the unauthorized usage or reproduction of copyright or patent-protected material, while the origins of the word are close to an Indo-European word for trial, attempt, experiment: something much more related to creativity. The Pirate Book intends to offer a more multi-sided perspective on media piracy, by showing the vitality of pirate culture around the world through a collection of stories of creative distribution of cultural content. This is combined with a visual history of the warez culture (the underground community of people that specialize in the distribution of copyrighted material) and an overview of anti-piracy technologies that industries have used to combat piracy, such as security holograms, torrent poisoning and mysterious TV detector vans searching for those watching TV illegally.

One of the stories included is that of Waldo Fernandez ‘Marakka’ from Cuba, who has been collecting, copying and reselling Cuban films after emigrating to the US in the 1980s. The historical films are not copyrighted in USA, and in addition, paying copyright fees to Cuba would violate the US trade embargo against Cuba. Marakka managed to collect over 14.000 films, which he often re-edited into versions that would be easier to sell (“For example, if there’s a woman walking in the countryside, looking at the sky, and it goes on for minutes, I take it out.”1). He also made his own documentaries by reusing chopped up parts of historical Cuban films.


The Pirate Book launch at transmediale, 5 February 2016

At the launch event, six of such stories from around the world were shared with additional photo and video material, demonstrating how piracy can function as an infrastructure that provides access to culture in parts of the world where there would otherwise probably be no access at all. The editors of the book, Nicolas Maigret and Maria Roszkowska, encourage everyone to (re)use the texts of the book in whatever way they want: the work is published by the Aksioma Institute for Contemporary Art under a copyleft license, and will also be spread as a digital version (a USB stick containing the PDF and all source files) with the next edition of Neural magazine.

You can listen to the launch event through the player below, read more about the book on or of course read a free copy of The Pirate Book online here.

1. Ernesto Oroza and Magdiel Aspillaga’s interview with Waldo (Marakka) Fernández (2012) – quoted from The Pirate Book, p. 165,

Current open competitions

Lieke Ploeger - February 8, 2016 in Contest, eSpace, Featured

There’s a number of interesting competitions currently open for those that want to start up creative projects reusing cultural heritage material, or those that have already successfully done so. This blog highlights five competitions that are currently open (sorted by submission deadline): if you know of any others, feel free to mail them to us, or directly to our OpenGLAM mailinglist.

First Europeana Challenge 2016: deadline 29 February

Calling all creative thinkers! From now until 29 February, Europeana are asking you to submit your designs for fantastic products and services which make the most of Europe’s rich digital cultural heritage, on the topics of First World War, Art & Design and Europe’s Music Heritage. There’s a reward of up to €25,000 euros on offer to help you start to build your product or service. For more details see

AAM Muse Awards – Open Culture: deadline 1 March

Each year, the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) organises the Muse Awards to recognize inspiring and outstanding digital media projects in the Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM) sector. Institutions or independent producers who use digital media to enhance the GLAM experience and engage audiences are invited to apply, within various categories such as Applications and APIs, Mobile applications and Multimedia installations. Especially interesting for OpenGLAM is the award category ‘Open Culture’: this award can be submitted by anyone working with open culture materials in the GLAM environment. GLAMs of any size, discipline and country are eligible to submit: the deadline for submissions is 1 March 2016.  The winners for each category will be presented at the 2016 AAM Annual Meeting. More information on the awards and the submission process is available from the AAM website.

PHOTOMEDIATIONS: A call for creative works: deadline 30 March

The editors of Photomediations: An Open Book are working with Europeana Space to curate an exhibition (both online and physical), and are calling out to the photographic community to submit works for consideration. We are looking for still and/or moving image works that creatively reuse – in the form of mashups, collages, montages, tributes or pastiches – one or more original image files taken from the Europeana repository of cultural artefacts. Selected entries and up to 10 honourable mentions will be highlighted on the exhibition website and then shown in a real-life exhibition venue. The closing date for the submissions is 30 March 2016. All successful entries will be notified by the judges by the end of April 2016. More information is available from:

British Library Labs Competition: deadline 11 April

The annual Competition is looking for transformative project ideas which use the British Library’s digital collections and data in new and exciting ways. Two Labs Competition finalists will be selected to work ‘in residence’ with the BL Labs team between May and early November 2016, where they will get expert help, access to the Library’s resources and financial support to realise their projects. Winners will receive a first prize of £3000 and runners up £1000 courtesy of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation atthe Labs Symposium on 7th November 2016 at the British Library in London where they will showcase their work. The deadline for entering is midnight British Summer Time (BST) on 11th April 2016. For more information visit

British Library Labs Awards: deadline 5 September

The annual Awards, introduced in 2015, recognises outstanding and innovative work that has been carried out using the British Library’s digital collections and data. This year, they will be commending work in four key areas:

  • Research – A project or activity which shows the development of new knowledge, research methods, or tools.
  • Commercial – An activity that delivers or develops commercial value in the context of new products, tools, or services that build on, incorporate, or enhance the Library’s digital content.
  • Artistic – An artistic or creative endeavour which inspires, stimulates, amazes and provokes.
  • Teaching / Learning – Quality learning experiences created for learners of any age and ability that use the Library’s digital content.

A prize of £500 will be awarded to the winner and £100 for the runner up for each category at the Labs Symposium on 7th November 2016 at the British Library in London, courtesy of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The deadline for entering is midnight BST on 5th September 2016.  Read more:

Grammofonskiva, Vänersborgs museum,

Grammofonskiva, Vänersborgs museum (accessed through Europeana)

Sharing Photographs

Antje Schmidt and Esther Ruelfs - February 2, 2016 in Curator's Choice, Featured, Public Domain

CURATOR’S CHOICE #29: Antje Schmidt and Esther Ruelfs of Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG)

Antje Schmidt, Head of Digital Cataloguing and MKG Collection Online, and Esther Ruelfs, Head of MKG’s Photography and New Media Department, on the functions of sharing images, both historically and in the present.


Only four months ago, in October 2015, MKG Collection Online was launched. For the first time the objects of the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg are made publicly available on a searchable digital platform. Although containing highlights from all collection areas, the initial release1 has focused on objects from the department of Photography and New Media which comprises well over 75,000 works. From the daguerreotype of the nineteenth century to early colour photography of the 1930s, the works held by the MKG illustrate the history of early photography, and extend beyond to digital photography of the present day.

For this occasion of the online image release the museum investigated how it can – in its role as a public cultural institution – make its holdings visible and accessible to as many people as possible. It decided that all images in the public domain should be provided under a Creative Commons CC0-license and be downloadable. The images tagged “public domain” are not only available for private, scholarly and commercial use, but may also be altered and combined with other content for the creation of completely new works. This idea of reuse corresponds to the museum’s initial founding charter from 1877, to offer persons working in the arts and crafts examples for study and imitation so as to improve the quality of the work of the regional workshops. Today the MKG is the first and only museum in Germany that offers, under the CCO license, the free use as well as reuse and remix of data and images of its public domain objects.

This decision to make the collection freely available for the public was largely influenced by conclusions made after the examination of the MKG’s historical photographs. They demonstrated that the sharing of images fulfills an important function for the confirmation of cultural identity and the production and transfer of knowledge.

Today more pictures are being taken and digitized than ever before – innumerable snapshots pile up on hard disks and in clouds, and are shared via the Internet and commented on. But platforms for sharing such as the MKG Collection Online, professional image databases, as well as Facebook and Flickr, only supersede older forms of archiving and transferring images and the associated interaction. Photography has always been a means of capturing, storing, and communicating visual impressions ever since its beginnings in the nineteenth century.

One of the central functions of photography is the creation of mementoes. Photography connects us with the subject or the person depicted beyond even the bounds of the time. The photo is an imprint; it transmits to us something that was once really there. Like a fingerprint or a footprint. This special quality of photography predestined it from the start to be a medium of memory. We can see this quality exemplified in the daguerreotype below, the image of the little girl framed by a braid of her own hair.

Unknown, Mädchen mit Kopftuch, Germany, 1855, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (Public Domain) — Source.

The idea of carrying part of a loved one with us and thus generating a special feeling of closeness is reflected in the practice of making friendship or mourning jewelry out of hair – and in the way we treasure portrait photographs as keepsakes of those we love. Emotional relationships can also be expressed by a certain photographic motif or by the body language of the sitters.

Unknown, Unbekanntes Ehepaar, Germany, 1840-1860, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (Public Domain) — Source.

The arms of the sisters in the photo below are closely intertwined, as are the hands of the couple in the daguerreotype by Carl Ferdinand Stelzner.

Unknown, Zwei unbekannte Frauen, Germany, 1840-1860, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (Public Domain) — Source.

Carl Ferdinand Stelzner, Carl Overweg mit seiner Braut Helene de Jough, Hamburg, 1857, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (Public Domain) — Source.

The relationship between photographer and subject may also be the focus of the work. Gertrude Käsebier uses the camera, for example, to capture and hold onto intimate moments with her own family.

Gertrude Käsebier, Happy Days, New York, ca. 1903, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (Public Domain) — Source.

Gertrude Käsebier, Blessed Art Though Among Women, ca. 1899, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (Public Domain) — Source.

Gertrude Käsebier, The Picture Book, ca. 1903, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (Public Domain) — Source.

Käsebier was a member of the Photo-Secession, an American group of art photographers, and with numerous photographs published in Alfred Stieglitz’s journal Camera Work she made a substantial contribution to the establishment of photography as a means of artistic expression. By 1897, she was already so successful as a photographer that she was able to open a studio on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. While her career was unusual for a woman of her day, her photographs feature traditional female motifs such as motherhood, and often treat Christian themes as well. Käsebier’s images of her own children as they grew up, as well as her commissioned portrait work, is notable for atmospheric dramatization using soft light combined with soft focus.

Gertrude Käsebier, Mutter mit Kindern, New York, 1901, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (Public Domain) — Source.

Gertrude Käsebier, Pastoral, before 1905. Heliogravüre published in Camera Work, Number 10, 1905, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (Public Domain) — Source.

Dr. Antje Schmidt is Head of Digital Cataloguing and MKG Collection Online. She holds a doctorate in Art History and, while her doctoral thesis examined the changing architecture and presentation modes of museums around 1900, in her current position she explores the challenges of museum practice in the digital age. Dr. Esther Ruelfs has been Head of the Photography and New Media Department since 2012. Her interest lies in the connection between historical currents and recent developments in photography. She wrote her thesis on the German photographer Herbert List.

1. MKG Collection Online shows a work in progress with the data updated regularly, therefore the number of objects available online grows constantly.

The Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg is one of the most important museums for applied art in Europe. The collection with more than 500.000 works range from Ancient Art to contemporary design with emphasis on European and East Asian art. It includes the world religions as well as Fashion, Graphic Art, Poster, Photography and exceptional Art Nouveau objects or unique musical instruments. Apart from being an inspirational source the museum was established to spread the knowledge about its works in order to improve the quality of the regional workshops. To explore its collections more please visit MKG Collection Online.

This post is part of our Curator’s Choice series, a monthly feature consisting of a guest article from a curator about a work or group of works in one of their “open” digital collections. The series is undertaken in partnership with OpenGLAM and made possible through funding from the European Union’s DM2E project.