Recovery budget puts Flemish heritage databases on track

9 Jul 2021

The Flemish Government has allocated a recovery budget of €2m to tackle the long-term future of Flemish heritage databases. This marks the start of the development of two new registration and collection management systems, which will eventually replace the Erfgoedplus (link in Dutch) and Erfgoedinzicht (link in Dutch) heritage databases.

A brief recap

Flemish heritage institutions have been using the Erfgoedplus and Erfgoedinzicht heritage databases and their web portals to register, manage and provide access to their collections for many years, and a process was launched to integrate these two systems in 2018. What steps have been taken in the meantime? We summarise everything here.

  • Before 2018: the Erfgoedplus, Erfgoedinzicht and Donnet heritage databases were set up and maintained by the provinces of Limburg and Flemish Brabant and the city of Leuven, the provinces of East and West Flanders, and the province of Antwerp, respectively.

  • 2018: ownership of these databases was transferred to the Flemish Government’s Department of Culture, Youth and Media as part of the state reform. These systems continued to operate, but demand for an integrated approach increased.

  • 2019: an initial field survey culminated in a series of strategic recommendations (link in Dutch) on the future of heritage databases. Donnet was discontinued. To safeguard the continuity of registrations, all the data from the church administrations in the province of Antwerp was transferred to Erfgoedplus.

  • 2019-2020: a working group was set up to monitor the integration process and provide guidance where necessary. Representatives from the Department of Culture, Youth and Media, FARO, the Flemish Art Collection, meemoo, heritage bodies and museums together form the Digital Collection Registration Taskforce. Preliminary research was carried out in close collaboration with the heritage sector, with outcomes compiled in three reports (link in Dutch).

  • 2020-2021: the findings from the preliminary research resulted in a concrete project proposal. The verdict? The existing heritage databases will ultimately be replaced by two systems: one aimed at collection registration and one focusing on collection management.

Want to delve deeper into the topic of heritage databases? For more details and background information, please visit the project page.

New impetus thanks to recovery funds

The Flemish Government has already approved the project proposal and allocated €2m as part of its ‘Resilience Recovery Plan’ to develop the new systems. This funding will enable FARO, the Flemish Art Collection and meemoo to start the process.

What's on the agenda?

We’re starting by putting a project team together, which will then run the project in three phases:

Analysis and outsourcing phase (2021-2022)

In this phase, we’ll be working on a sector-specific analysis to determine the functionalities and additional services for both the collection registration and management systems.

Development, configuration and test phase (2022-2023)

We’ll then embark on the development of the collection registration and management systems.

Roll out and migration phase (2023-2024)

We’ll roll out the collection registration module first before the collection management module and additional components. We’re aiming to conform with the OSLO standard for cultural heritage (link in Dutch) for both modules. At the same time, users will be asked to sign the Service Level Agreement (SLA) and we will start training and education.

We’re implementing this process in close collaboration with Erfgoedplus and Erfgoedinzicht users, and the existing heritage databases will remain operational for as long as the new modules are under development. Only when the new systems become operational and all the data has been migrated will the existing databases and their web portals be switched off. This is expected to take place at the end of 2024.

Want to find out more about the Flemish heritage databases? We’ve published a detailed project page about this, which you can see here. Visit the Department of Culture, Youth and Media website (link in Dutch) to read the recommendations and reports.

>> More about the project

We briefly discussed plans for the heritage databases at our partner event’s recovery session. Watch the presentation again here (link in Dutch).

Meemoo also has a role in other elements of this plan, especially for the GIVE projects, supervising cultural organisations in their digital collection registration projects and the digital leap in education.

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