This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience. By clicking or navigating the site you agree to allow our collection of information through cookies. More info

Posted on Friday March 29, 2019

Annual report 2018 - A decade of democratising culture

2018 - a big year for us here at the Europeana Foundation. We celebrated ten years since the first Europeana website went live. We said goodbye to our founding executive director, Jill Cousins. We renewed our relationship with the European Commission and the Member States. And we made strides in improving our processes and products. 

From creating educational resources to entertaining GIFs, and from sharing personal migration stories to developing professional expertise at EuropeanaTech, discover ten highlights from 2018 in the Europeana Foundation's Annual Report. 

main image

Title: Europeana Foundation Annual Report

Creator: Europeana Foundation

Date: April 2019

Institution: Europeana Foundation

Country: The Netherlands


1. Participants share 600 personal stories with Europeana Migration

Title: Contributors share their migration stories and objects.

Creator: Europeana Foundation

Date: 2018

Institution: Europeana Foundation

Country: The Netherlands


Encouraging people to think about their own stories can be transformational, instilling pride and opening up new perspectives on personal identities.

The Europeana Migration campaign ran a series of migration-themed collection days involving cultural heritage organisations across Europe.

Young and old joined in online - contributing to and exploring a migration thematic collection on Europeana Collections - and in person, sharing their personal migration stories, with accompanying pictures, diaries, videos and letters.

18 collection day events, and associated exhibitions, lectures, panel discussions and social events, took place in 12 countries over nine months, working with over 30 partner organisations. One, EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, said that taking part ‘provided us with the impetus and the platform to engage with new Irish communities allowing us to build connections, not just collections.’

Over 3,000 people attended, sharing more than 600 stories and 1,000 beloved objects. For all, this was a positive experience; for some, it was transformative. One commented, ‘I decided to share my story because [...] it is one that I am proud of. I learned that it has defined me as a person and this is important. I also learned that I have achieved more in life than I thought.’

2. Public transcribes 2,800 First World War handwritten documents

Technology can do a great deal, but sometimes a human touch can do even more. Generations of Europeans have this year been getting hands-on with history, making it more accessible for us all.

The Europeana 1914-1918 Centenary Tour (led by the Europeana Foundation and Facts & Files) promoted the value of digital cultural heritage to European citizens. Generations of people came together to digitally transcribe more than 2,800 handwritten documents - letters, postcards and diaries - from the First World War period. Once made digital, these transcribed documents can be easily translated, making them available to a much wider audience.

‘You are gold diggers, bringing memories to the surface’. Taja Vovk van Gaal, Creative Director House Of European History, addressing transcribathon participants.

The tour finished with an event in collaboration with the House of European History in Brussels in November. Here, previous transcribathon winners from all around Europe competed in a final transcribathon. There were two round table discussions with renowned digital humanities experts on the value of the unique corpus of Europeana 1914-1918. And European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Mariya Gabriel, spoke about the importance of commemoration and cultural heritage to the digital transformation of Europe’s society and economies.

3. New aggregation workflow transforms data ingestion process

Europeana Collections relies on national, thematic and domain aggregators enabling cultural heritage institutions to share their content and open it up to new audiences.

This year, a steering group was formed to lead the Europeana Aggregators’ Forum (EAF). One key activity of the EAF was the development of an aggregator accreditation scheme.

Six national workshops brought cultural heritage institutions, aggregating partners and the Europeana Foundation together to address the challenges and benefits of publishing cultural heritage online, using the Europeana Publishing Framework to demonstrate how collection quality influences potential uses.

Metis, our new internal data publishing system, replaced UIM as the aggregation system for the Europeana Core Service. Transparent management of data workflows, modular architecture and an improved user experience are already improving the efficiency of ingesting data. In parallel, we continued work on new metadata harvesting channels, experimenting with Linked Open Data, and IIIF content and metadata discovery patterns.

In very close collaboration with aggregator partners, the Europeana Publishing Framework (EPF) was revised to include a proposal for a metadata component, and data quality was improved by moving content up the tiers of the EPF and reducing the number of non-compliant records by 3 million.

Improvements to the Europeana Data Model focused on full-text content for Europeana Newspapers, and thanks to the Consortium, rights statements were added in four more languages.

4. Europeana Network Association launches six specialist communities

Title: Europeana Network Association AGM 2018

Date: 2018

Country: Vienna


The dedicated experts who form the Europeana Network Association (ENA) are integral to our success - the driving force behind Europeana as a movement.

The ENA this year launched six specialist communities for members to cultivate and share knowledge, expertise and best practices around a common interest. EuropeanaTech, Europeana Copyright, Europeana Impact, Europeana Research, Europeana Education, and Europeana Communicators launched in the summer and became the focus of the Annual General Meeting in Vienna in December.

The AGM also saw the launch of a well-contested Members Council election in which 89 candidates sought to occupy 28 available seats. Of the 2,198 members eligible to vote, 889 participated in the elections - a 40% participation rate, equalling the turnout in 2017. Participants campaigned on social media under the #EuropeanaElects hashtag - it was used 96 times and reached a total audience of 96,996 people. A new Management Board was formed from the newly elected members in early 2019.

‘Europeana is not only a database, a library or a service organisation. It is an activist movement. A movement which has the ambition to transform the world through culture.’ Chris Sigaloff, Advisor for the Council of Culture in the Netherlands, AGM keynote speaker

5. EuropeanaTech inspires innovators to forge the future of digital

Title: EuropeanaTech Conference

Creator: Sebastiaan ter Burg

Date: 2018

Country: Netherlands


In May, nearly 300 thought-leaders from across the world met for the very well-received ‘Glorious data, glorious technology’ EuropeanaTech 2018 conference. 37 presentations, seven panel sessions and much thought-provoking debate took place on the technical future of digital cultural heritage.

As a result, a Europeana Task Force produced the Europeana Innovation Agenda highlighting prominent and urgent research and innovation trends to help move the heritage community forward.

Back at base, EuropeanaTech’s regular activities continued, including producing the EuropeanaTech Insight newsletter and 20+ other publications, papers and presentations.

Innovation in R&D meant full-text search was implemented for Europeana Newspapers and we migrated to a more modern search infrastructure. We refined Europeana's entity collection using auto-completion and deployed a new ranking based on content and metadata quality. We continued efforts to refine our framework for measuring performance and produced a roadmap for improving visibility and indexing by search engines.

External collaborations continued - we worked on multilinguality with the CEF eTranslation DSI and we continued our work with the IIIF Executive Committee, the IIIF Discovery Technical Specification group and the IIIF Community Groups on Outreach, Newspapers and Text Granularity.

6. Europeana Collections updates make content more discoverable

Title: Screenshot of the new item page on Europeana Collections

Creator: Europeana Foundation

Date: 2019

Country: Netherlands


We want people to easily discover inspiring content in Europeana Collections with or without a specific search. In 2018, we introduced a new-style item page, and improvements to the ‘entities’ concept released in 2017.

Entity pages on Europeana Collections are entry points to content by a specific person, or on a certain topic. They provide context by combining information from Wikipedia with metadata relating to a person or topic. When connected to an entity, an item gains the multilingual search terms associated with that entity, so it will turn up in searches performed in different languages.

The new item page design makes sharing, downloading and crediting simpler, while ‘next’ and ‘previous’ item options take clicks out of browsing search results. Connectivity with other parts of the site is made clear - over 25% of items are now connected to a blog post, gallery, exhibition or entity.

A new thematic collection, Europeana Newspapers, gathers 4,129,989 million newspapers from 23 countries spanning four centuries. More than 800,000 of the newspapers are available in searchable full-text.

Together, these developments take us closer to our goal of increasing visitor numbers, repeat visits and session length through more engaging experiences and in-depth browsing.

7. Evidence of transformative cultural heritage shapes Impact Playbook

Title: Europeana impact evidence bank workshop

Creator: Sebastiaan ter Burg

Date: 2018

Country: Netherlands


We believe that cultural heritage can transform lives, communities and classrooms and in 2018, we looked for evidence of where and how.

We worked with six cultural heritage institutions to explore their impact models and to further develop our own work on impact. Their experiences with the Impact Playbook helped us refine the book’s first phase, and will shape the development of the versions that follow.

Members of the community are using our impact toolkit to explore and understand the impact of their work. Together, we are sharing their progress through articles and case studies, which are proving of great value to those considering starting an impact assessment as well as to those who have already done so and want to consider getting further buy-in among colleagues, stakeholders, and the wider cultural heritage community in their country and beyond.

Highlights include the impact of using digital culture to help revitalise an urban square in Hamburg, the economic and social impact of the renovation of the Rijksmuseum, and how the Statens Museum for Kunst’s open images programme is contributing to their ambition to set art free.

8. Scholars harness digital cultural heritage in First World War research projects

Title: (L-R): Professor Lorna Hughes - Chair of the Europeana Research Advisory Board with the 2018 Europeana Research Grant winners: Dr Elizabeth Benjamin, Dr Saverio Vita, Dr Berber Hagedoorn

Date: 2018

Institution: Europeana Foundation

Country: Brussels


Bringing Europe’s galleries, museums, libraries, and archives within digital reach allows researchers to access a much wider scope of material and opinion. Now in its third year, the Europeana Research Grants Programme awards funding to scholars to mine and map Europeana Collections to uncover new patterns and generate new insights.

Projects funded under the second Europeana Research Grants programme concluded in 2018. Europeana Collections material was used to study manuscripts from medieval England containing French literature, to look at visual representations of the Roma in Romania, and to connect a citation index of literature on the history of Venice with related digital objects.

For the third Europeana Research Grants Programme, early-career scholars were invited to propose projects connected to the theme of the First World War. We received high-quality responses from all over Europe. Professor Lorna Hughes, Chair of the Europeana Research Advisory Board, presented the recipients of the 2018 Europeana Research Grants with their awards at the House of European History in Brussels in November.

The three winning projects, which will run throughout 2019, will map soldiers’ itineraries using their personal diaries, create a dynamic visualisation of wartime postcards, and research the use of wartime content in professional storytelling.

9. 2,000 teachers upskill with ‘Europeana in your classroom’ MOOC

Title: The Europeana Teacher Developer Group

Date: 2018

Institution: Europeana Foundation


Cultural heritage has a crucial role to play in education. Material from Europeana Collections provides multiple perspectives on historical, political, economic, cultural and human developments across Europe and beyond. Europeana Education aims to enrich digital learning materials with this diverse cultural data and inspire learners of all ages. Throughout 2018, our portfolio of digital learning resources has continued to grow.

This year, the first Europeana Education Massive Open Online Course, ‘Europeana in your classroom’, created with European Schoolnet and designed to give teachers the confidence to use digital cultural heritage, had over 2,000 registrations from 59 countries.

A Teacher Training Kit was created with partner Euroclio, along with over 50 learning scenarios from the Europeana Teacher Developer Group. And a series of campaigns, webinars and workshops introduced eTwinning’s vast international teacher network to Europeana’s educational resources.

Collaborations with ministries of education were further nurtured, and more than 500 educators provided very positive and valuable feedback in a robust series of interviews and surveys.

The Open Education Consortium awarded Europeana an Open Education Award for Excellence as ‘an exemplary initiative promoting free and open access to cultural heritage collections. A project showcasing humanity’s patrimony freely, openly and without any restrictions’.

10. Creatives get playful with digital culture

Title: 11-11:Memories Retold

Date: 2018

Institution: DigixArt and Aardman


Developers and enthusiasts with imagination, skill and a desire to be playful have this year produced some incredible applications and projects using digital cultural content.

The GIF IT UP 2018 competition - inviting people to create gifs using openly licensed objects from Europeana Collections, DPLA, Trove and DigitalNZ - included a special prize for gifs made using World War One material. This year a record 250 entries demonstrated a growing appetite for this kind of cultural challenge.

Captivated by his own family history during WW1, developer Yoan Fanis of DigixArt worked with Aardman and BandaiNamco on ‘11-11: Memories Retold’ - a unique video game that tells a touching story about the relationship between two men on different sides of the war.

Funding totalling 34,000 EUR was awarded to two Europeana #edTech Challenge winners, who produced educational apps ‘Birdie Memory’, teaching children about European birds and their songs, and ‘Wonders’, taking players on a journey to cultural sites around the world.

Working with 13 other partners for THE ARTS+ Innovation Summit, the Europeana Foundation contributed to THE ARTS+ European Manifesto on Supporting Innovation in the Cultural and Creative Sectors at European, national and regional levels.

Download the full Europeana Foundation 2018 Annual report and accounts as a pdf document using the link below.