Teaching with Cultural Heritage Online During the Pandemic | Ithaka S+R

“Today we are excited to announce a new project funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that will explore how teaching and learning with cultural heritage collections and materials is evolving in response to the pandemic. Instructors who seek to use cultural heritage objects from museums, archives, and special collections face unique challenges when adapting to remote teaching. What is needed is deeper understanding of, and better support for these instructors in this current moment. …”

48. On Planetary in 2020: curatorial activism and open sourcing in service of digital preservation – Fresh and New

“Perhaps the most experimental aspect of Planetary’s acquisition was the fact that the museum released the source code online with an open license, allowing anyone to copy the code and modify it and adapt their copy to suit their interests. The intention of open-sourcing the code was to open the door to passionate fans of Planetary so they could aid in its long-term preservation and maintenance….

The longer term value of open sourcing the code, rather than inheriting the default closed source model (which is the case with almost all software acquisitions into museum collections) also lies in clarity that it provides for future generations….

During the acquisition process of Planetary, substantial work was done with Smithsonian’s General Counsel and the developers formerly Bloom LLC, to enable the open sourcing which has overall benefits for future preservation activities. The generosity of the developers and their efforts to prepare the source for release cannot be underestimated. By defaulting to open source at the time of acquisition means that future presertvation or presentation activities, emulation or other efforts cannot be stymied in the future by more conservative legal counsel, curators, or conservators at the museum….”

Podcast: How ‘open access’ helped SMK Denmark to increase reach & audience engagement

“Over the last decade, many museums around the world have adopted an open access policy. From the US to Europe, the opening up of museums has meant that anybody can use, reuse, remix collections without any copyright restrictions. At the core of open access is the commitment to make heritage accessible for people regardless of conduct social or geographical barriers. For museums, this move has contributed immensely to brand-building and added social value. But how?

The National Gallery of Denmark (the Statens Museum for Kunst, aka SMK) in Copenhagen is one of the premier art museums of the country and home to several European art treasures. In this podcast, I spoke with Jonas Heide Smith – Head of Digital at SMK about their approach, learnings and challenges. Give it a listen or read on for the key takeaways….”

Towards a National Collection | Collections United

“Funded by UKRI’s Arts and Humanities Research Council, Towards a National Collection is supporting research that breaks down the barriers that exist between the UK’s outstanding cultural heritage collections, with the aim of opening them up to new research opportunities and encouraging the public to explore them in new ways….

Collections United is a social media campaign connecting and highlighting the rich and diverse range of cultural heritage collections across the UK. The aim is to bring together material from more than one collection, telling the stories that connect them, and encouraging the public to do the same….”

NEMO report on digitisation and copyright – challenges of making museum collections accessible online: NEMO – Network of European Museum Organisations

“In order to identify challenges that museums in Europe encounter when digitising their collections and establishing online access to them, NEMO conducted a survey on digitisation and copyright. The findings and recommendations have been gathered in a report….”

London’s National Gallery was hit by the biggest art heist in history | WIRED UK

“London’s National Gallery owns some of the most famous (and expensive) artworks in the world: Van Gogh’s Sunflowers; one of da Vinci’s most famous altarpieces; 15 paintings by Botticelli. But on Sunday at midnight, the collection was the victim of an audacious heist, one that included all but two of its pieces.

Whisked from the confines of their Trafalgar Square home, the paintings began to pop up in museums almost instantly, via Russia, France, Japan and Australia. The Ambassadors, by Hans Holbein the Younger, ended up behind shimmering white guardrails, the room softly glowing with rainbow spotlights. Sunflowers appeared in several locations: in a gold frame on a blue brocaded wall, surrounded by bronze columns, for example, or in a tiled entrance lobby beneath a luxurious balcony. 

The smuggling, after all, was a digital one: the artworks now available for anyone with PC and a Steam account to hang in their private collections in the game Occupy White Walls (OWW). Photoshop (rather than a scalpel) was used to cut the pictures from their frames. And instead of smashed glass, balaclavas and a disarmed alarm system, all this heist took was Javascript, an open-source tool called “Dezoomify” and some manual data sorting.

“I like to think of it as liberation,” Yarden Yaroshevski, CEO of Stikipixels, who created the game, explains….”

Passenger Pigeon Manifesto – A call to GLAMs – Google Docs

“A call to public GLAM institutions to liberate our cultural heritage. Illustrated with the cautionary tales of extinct animals and our lack of access to what remains of them….

We are supposed to learn from history yet we don’t have access to it. Historical photographs of extinct animals are among the most important artefacts to teach and inform about human impact on nature. But where to look when one wants to see all that is left of these beings? Where can I access all the extant photos of the thylacine or the passenger pigeon?

Historical photos are kept by archives, libraries, museums. Preservation, which is the goal of cultural institutions, means ensuring not only the existence of but the access to historical material. It is the opposite of owning: it’s sustainable sharing. Similarly, conservation is not capturing and caging but providing the conditions and freedom to live.

In reality, most historical photos are not freely available to the public – despite being in public domain. We might be able to see thumbnails or medium size previews scattered in numerous online catalogs but most of the time we don’t get to see them in full quality and detail. In general, they are hidden, the memory of their existence slowly going extinct.

The knowledge and efforts of these institutions are crucial in tending our cultural landscape but they cannot become prisons to our history. Instead of claiming ownership, their task is to provide unrestricted access and free use.

In reality, most historical photos are not freely available to the public – despite being in public domain. We might be able to see thumbnails or medium size previews scattered in numerous online catalogs but most of the time we don’t get to see them in full quality and detail. In general, they are hidden, the memory of their existence slowly going extinct….”

13 artworks by DAG Museums are now “Open Access” ! | GIF-IT-UP India #OpenGLAM

“The OpenGLAM world [galleries, libraries, archives, museums] just got richer by 13 historic artworks from India thanks to the folks at DAG Museums. Now that might sound like a small number, but for India, this is a huge step towards providing Open Access.

These high-resolution artworks have been released by DAG as part of India’s first ever GIF-IT-UP Challenge. These are now free for you to download and use as you wish, without any fear of breaking copyright laws. The CC by SA license allows you to use and alter an image even for commercial purposes, as long as you give credit and license your new work under the identical terms.”

The Royal BC Museum opens up thousands of digitized photos of Indigenous communities across BC to the public | Royal BC Museum and Archives | Victoria, BC, Canada

“The Royal BC Museum has opened up to the public 16,103 historical photographs depicting Indigenous communities from across BC that were taken between the late 1800s and the 1970s….

some scanned and digitized photos shall remain restricted, for legal and cultural reasons, and will not be publicly accessible. These reasons include copyright and/or licensing issues, the depiction of sacred events and/or sites, or requests that the text on the verso be kept private….”

Survey on the impact of the COVID-19 situation on museums in Europe

“The majority of museums in Europe and around the globe are closed. Closing doors to the public results in a drastic loss of income for many museums. While some museums have found their budget minimally impacted as of yet, some museums, especially the larger museums and the museums in touristic areas, have reported a loss of income of 75-80%, with weekly losses adding up to hundreds of thousands of Euros. 1…

In these times, digital cultural heritage is contributing to people’s enjoyment and creativity more than ever. NEMO wants museums and stakeholders to acknowledge that the digital museum is not a distant promise or a source of untapped potential, rather that digital cultural heritage and digital engagement has demonstrated its value in the past weeks by bringing people together, encouraging creativity, sharing experiences, and offering a virtual space to build ideas together. …

40% of the museums that responded to the survey have noticed increased online visits since they have been closed….”