The recent Europeana conference was all about digital transformation

Rick Lawrence, 19.12.2019
In November I attended the Europeana Conference in Lisbon’s National Library. I was there as part of a project team and wanted to find out more about Europeana at first hand. The conference theme for this year was connecting communities and digital transformation.

Europeana was established in 2008 and aims to transform the world through Europe’s cultural heritage. Membership is drawn from galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAM) from across member states of the European Union.

Membership is open to anyone and if you have particular skills there are specialist communities to contribute to. It’s also a way of getting collections out to a wider audience by adding your collection’s data to the Europeana website. This is done through national aggregators and the Collections Trust is pursuing a solution for the UK.

Presenting the GIFT project

The Gift Project was a three year EU funded project led by the IT University of Denmark and facilitated by Culture 24. The website has tools and resources to help museums give richer digital experiences for visitors. Nine museums including my workplace, Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter, contributed experiments and expertise. 
Delegates got to try some of the tools and to meet the project team. 

After lunch museum representatives sat on a panel to discuss our experiences, experiments and outcomes. Like all the conference sessions it was recorded and is still online
 
New at the conference

The first big news was the new Europeana website. The main innovation is a resource area for teachers. This provides a variety of resources, tools, apps and games for educators. There is a public demo website to explore. 
 
The other big topic was the presentation of the Time Machine project. The idea is to use cultural heritage data mapped to digital versions of physical cities. The result would allow digital exploration of a city both in space and time. This is a major project with €1m in funding and 394 contributors. The feasibility of joining cultural heritage data with data from the big tech companies provoked much discussion.

Like all conferences there were a mix of keynotes, plenary sessions and individual workshops and seminars. Over the two days I managed to get to quite a mix of sessions.

One session on Digital Invasions was more hands-on than expected. This was presented by a great team who use culture to bring people together and express the community through digital images and video. To see what this looks like, search on Twitter for the hashtag #FeelingCulture

There were several workshops using the Europeana Impact Playbook. I found this a useful toolkit as did other delegates and recommend seeing if it can help you.
Brexit popped up in a session on the public domain and EU Copyright Rules. Not surprisingly the conference was advised that the position will be clearer once Brexit happens. 

Rick Lawrence is the digital media officer  at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery in Exeter

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