Digitising Contemporary Art

Meemoo – formerly PACKED vzw – coordinated the Digitising Contemporary Art project from January 2011 until June 2013. This project was all about digitising contemporary art collections from European museums and arts institutes, and making them accessible online.

Challenge

Digitising Contemporary Art, as the name suggests, was aimed at the digitisation of contemporary art, i.e. art produced since 1945. These types of artworks were still largely absent from Europeana, the European cultural heritage platform, and this project wanted to fill the gap in this collection.

We did this by digitising art objects from 21 collections from small- to medium-sized museums and arts institutes in 12 European countries. These were mainly museums and institutes that needed help with the digitisation process and their contribution to Europeana. The digitised works of art provide a clear overview of European contemporary art and its place in our cultural heritage, and include masterpieces from important European artists, such as Marina Abramović (Serbia), Wim Delvoye (Belgium) and Pierre Bismuth (France).

Our role

Digitising Contemporary Art was funded by the European Commission and had a project team consisting of 21 museums and arts institutes, four technical institutes, and us.

We coordinated the project and provided expertise in the field of digitising artworks and making collections accessible online, and helped to write up a digitisation workflow and guidelines for digitising different types of contemporary artworks. As an expertise centre in Belgium, we also tried to convince relevant institutions from our own country to also collaborate on the project. Mu.ZEE (Art Museum at the Seaside), ARGOS (Centre for Audiovisual Arts), KMSKB (Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium) and MAC (Grand-Hornu - Museum of Contemporary Art) were among those who joined the project.

Approach

The main aim of the Digitising Contemporary Art project was to make contemporary art objects accessible and searchable via Europeana. A total of 26,921 artworks – paintings, photos, sculptures, installations and videos – and 1,857 context documents were digitised in a corpus of high-quality reproductions. This corpus was then made accessible on Europeana through the use of metadata, thumbnails and direct links to the artwork reproductions. We also ensured that the rights for all the available content were released where possible.

Important points for attention in the project were:

  • the choice of specifications for digitisation and metadata;

  • making them interoperable;

  • finding an aggregation solution for each partner institute;

  • the exchange with Europeana.

Project partners’ expertise and tools were counted in for this.

The project’s most significant outcome is the improved access to contemporary art in Europeana, which will contribute to the preservation of the artworks in the corpus and a better understanding of contemporary art’s valuable place in European cultural heritage.

Partners

Various museums and institutes in Europe

  • IBBT (now imec), Belgium;

  • ARGOS centre for audiovisual arts, Belgium;

  • Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Belgium (MRBAB);

  • Grand-Hornu - Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC), Belgium;

  • Mu.ZEE - Art Museum at the Seaside, Belgium;

  • Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design (HfG), Germany;

  • European Media Art Festival (EMAF), Germany;

  • Transmediale, Germany;

  • National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), Greece;

  • Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art (MMCA), Greece;

  • Frissiras Museum, Greece;

  • UBITECH, Greece;

  • National Gallery - Alexandros Soutzos Museum (EPMAS), Greece;

  • National Gallery of Iceland (Listasafn), Iceland;

  • Reykjavik Art Museum (RAM), Iceland;

  • Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMSU) Croatia;

  • Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA), Lithuania;

  • Netherlands Media Art Institute (NIMk), the Netherlands;

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, the Netherlands;

  • WRO Media Art Center Foundation, Poland;

  • Fundação Serralves, Portugal;

  • Ars Electronica Linz, Austria;

  • Museum of Modern Art (MG), Slovenia;

  • Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Spain.

Do you have a question?
Contact Rony Vissers
Manager Expertise