2 minutes to read Posted on Tuesday October 26, 2021

Updated on Wednesday October 27, 2021

portrait of Adrian Murphy

Adrian Murphy

Europeana Collections Manager , Europeana Foundation

Digital storytelling on the Europeana blog: giving physical exhibitions a digital legacy

This year, the Europeana website blog has increasingly shared stories from physical exhibitions across Europe. We hear about the experiences of organisations who have published on Europeana's blog and its role in bringing their content to wider audiences.

Photograph of an exhibition with multiple jars on shelves
Title: Marttaliiton näyttely Viipurissa
Date: 1930
Institution: Finnish Heritage Agency
Country: Finland
CC BY

For many years, the Europeana website blog has played a key role in Europeana’s digital storytelling, showcasing and highlighting digitised cultural heritage collections found on Europeana and beyond. Over the past months, the blog has increasingly shared posts relating to exhibitions in museums, libraries, galleries and archives across Europe. 

For example, Angelica Ruckstuhl from the Jewish Museum in Stockholm (Judiska museet) wrote about their display relating to Salomon Rosenbaum & Jewish life in Sundvall. For Black History Month 2021, Dr Susan Hazan wrote about Wifredo Lam (whose artworks are featured in an exhibition at The Israel Museum, Jerusalem) and Eva de la Fuente Pedersen from Statens Museum for Kunst wrote about three 17th century portraits of a Congolese emissary and his servants. Eva Lena Karlsson of Nationalmuseum Sweden wrote about Migrants, related to an exhibition of the Swedish National Portrait Gallery at Gripsholm Castle. And finally, Nicola Scott from the Scottish Maritime Museum has written about an exhibition called Into the Maelstrom: The Scottish Kayak Expedition to North West Norway 1980, celebrating the 40th anniversary of Scotland’s first formal sea kayaking expedition. 

How has bringing the exhibitions online in this way supported the aims of these museums? 

A collage of four images. Portrait of Maria Ricc, 1850s, Emma Ekwall, Nationalmuseum, Sweden, Public Domain. Portraits of Pedro Sunda, Dom Miguel de Castro and Diego Bemba, Unknown Dutch artist, Statens Museum for Kunst, Public Domain.  Carbonell and Wifrido Lam durning an interview at Union Radio television station, Havana Cuba, 1952, Beaux Arts Gallery, Manuel Carbonell. A building, Bo Schilling, Norrlandsbild, Sundsvalls museum, CC BY-NC
Title: Image collage
Institution: Europeana Foundation
Country: Netherlands
CC BY-SA
A collage of four images. Portrait of Maria Ricc, 1850s, Emma Ekwall, Nationalmuseum, Sweden, Public Domain. Portraits of Pedro Sunda, Dom Miguel de Castro and Diego Bemba, Unknown Dutch artist, Statens Museum for Kunst, Public Domain. Carbonell and Wifrido Lam durning an interview at Union Radio television station, Havana Cuba, 1952, Beaux Arts Gallery, Manuel Carbonell. A building, Bo Schilling, Norrlandsbild, Sundsvalls museum, CC BY-NC

Reaching wider audiences

Cultural heritage organisations across Europe are developing exhibitions both online and on-site to showcase their collections to audiences in their localities and beyond. The blogs on Europeana - which showcase the collections and stories related to physical exhibitions - have offered a way to share them with international audiences. This is a wonderful way to give this storytelling a digital legacy and wider reach through the Europeana website. We’ve now brought stories from exhibitions from countries across Europe to wider European audiences and showcased universal topics.

For Anna Jansson at Nationalmuseum Sweden, it is important to highlight the portrait collection as part of Sweden’s core cultural heritage while also sharing it to a wider international audience. 'The benefit of sharing an exhibition digitally and explaining the theme in a blog is that we reach a wider audience with what is being produced in the cultural sphere of Sweden,' she says.

Nicola Scott at the Scottish Maritime Museum says 'our museum is a national museum but we tell stories that link to places all over the world. The exhibition ‘Into the Maelstrom: The Scottish Kayak Expedition to North West Norway 1980’ was one such, and sharing it with a wide audience beyond the reach of the physical exhibition was important to us.'

Two men in kayaks
Title: Photograph of Jim Breen and Peter Wilson in their kayaks, 1980. In Copyright.
Creator: Jim Breen
Institution: Scottish Maritime Museum
Two men in kayaks

Engagement through digital storytelling

Rather than focus on the exhibitions themselves, these blogs aim to bring out stories through showcasing digitised collections, and in particular in 2021, the role of digital storytelling was important in both exhibitions. Nicola Scott says, 'telling a wider audience about the exhibition was really helpful during the Covid-19 pandemic. While the museum was open after lockdown, our footfall was still low and it was very sad to think we would not get as many people seeing the exhibition as we usually did. The exhibition was predominantly photos taken from the expedition - this translated well into being displayed online and really gave the Scottish Maritime Museum an opportunity to reach the wider audience the exhibition deserved.' 

Nationalmuseum Sweden were also able to use the blog on Europeana to share their exhibition and collections more widely. Anna Jansson says 'we used the blog post on Europeana as an in depth-reading that we linked from our social media. When pushing to sites and exhibitions online outside our own website, which mostly is to prepare for a visit in real life, we provide the digital visitor with the possibility to discover even more heritage online'.

Share your own collections

Are you interested in sharing your physical exhibitions and work through an editorial collaboration with Europeana? Find out more about creating editorial

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