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2 minutes to read Posted on Tuesday October 24, 2017

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Aleksandra Strzelichowska

Aleksandra Strzelichowska

Senior Adviser Online Marketing & Events , Europeana Foundation

portrait of Małgorzata Szynkielewska

Małgorzata Szynkielewska

Content & Exhibitions Coordinator , Europeana Foundation

From an exhibition to a competition: wrapping up ‘Picture This! Vintage Postcards of Southeastern Europe’

Over summer, we focused on the rich cultural heritage of South and East European libraries in a user-friendly way. Learn more as we celebrate the end of the project.

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Picture This! online exhibition
Europeana Foundation

Postcards from the past

Libraries’ collections have always been at the heart of Europeana. However, until last year, digital materials provided by non-EU countries were not broadly represented in Europeana Collections. A project called Collections of South and East Europe in Europeana (CSEEE) was created to address that lack of visibility.

The European Library (TEL), together with the National and University Library in Zagreb, Croatia, and the national libraries of Serbia and Slovenia helped bringing in content from five national libraries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYR Macedonia, Moldova, and Montenegro).

To celebrate that cooperation, we created an online exhibition highlighting the new material. We asked each of these national libraries to choose a set of three postcards representing their country, and to provide context about these places. Our purpose was to highlight the cultural and natural heritage of the regions presented on these vintage postcards. That's how 'Picture this! Vintage postcards of Southeastern Europe' was born.

Online and on site tributes

Once the exhibition was online, the idea of asking users to take contemporary photographs of these historic places emerged. We particularly loved the idea that the postcards were a nice mix of popular touristic attractions and hidden gems. Given the perfect timing of the approaching summer holidays, we decided to make it happen.

Over two months, we featured each of the participating countries during one week - encouraging people to visit the related chapter of the exhibition and inviting them to participate in the contest.

We received 416 contest entries, and over 1,200 votes in the Public’s Award. The exhibition got over 4,800 visits and we hope to get many more once it incorporates the photographs from the contest - we’re working on it now, so stay tuned!

 National Library of Serbia

© National Library of Serbia, Belgrade

Harnessing the power of partners

In order to make this initiative a success, we needed the expertise of the National Libraries featured in the exhibition. They’ve done an amazing work through the whole process.

The partner libraries translated text copy for promotional materials - posters and flyers in the local languages - and took care of printing and distribution in libraries and tourist information centres. They also supported our communications and social media activities. It’s been great to have different local organizations involved, including the Serbian Ministry of Culture! Traditional media also played a fantastic role with Serbian breakfast tv show, Radio Beograd 1 and Macedonian Radio Skopje broadcasting information about the competition. Without the partners’ engagement, we wouldn’t be able to reach such broad audience.

Picture this! was a great adventure, we’d like to thank all the partner institutions for their enthusiasm and efforts they put into it. As we are celebrating the outcomes of the Collections of South and East Europe in Europeana project, which inspired this initiative, Jasenka Zajec, Library Consultant at the National and University Library in Zagreb, reminds us the positive effects of this collaboration for the future:

‘Working with partner libraries, TEL and Europeana representatives has been a privilege and a great experience. The impact of the project and cooperation extends beyond the immediate results, as will enable libraries to prepare the data themselves in the future, and facilitate their participation in similar projects.’  

If you are interested in featuring your content on Europeana or organizing an activity with us, please get in touch!