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2 minutes to read Posted on Friday May 26, 2017

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Camille Tenneson

Camille Tenneson

Former Editorial & PR Officer , Europeana Foundation

Gifs, apps and social media: revamping cultural heritage with digital initiatives

Art doesn’t need to be digital native to be popular on the internet: the Classical Art Memes page, for instance, has more than 4 millions followers.

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Digital technologies and social media trends regularly enable users to interact with online content in playful and shareable ways - we thought you’d like to know how Europeana has been using them to promote our partners’ content.

Gif it up: putting classical art in motion

Now in its fourth year, Gif it Up takes this opportunity to give art a second life with an annual international Gif making competition. Throughout October, creatives, animators, history nuts and lovers of the internet will once more be invited to come up with new gifs exploring cultural heritage resources. Participants are asked to use public domain and openly licensed digital video, images, and text found in the four partners: Europeana, hosting this year’s competition; and also DPLA, Trove and DigitalNZ. The previous years’ editions, for instance, have seen the state caterpillar crawl and change into a butterfly or a man falling in the grand canyon among other animations. In 2016, the hashtag #GIFitUP reached an audience of more than 4 million. More specifically, general Europeana content was used for 57 of the total 128 entries - 45% of all entries - including the overall winner and two of the five runners-up.Results can still be browsed here.

“The State Caterpillar”, Grand Prize Winner, was created by Kristen Carter and Jeff Gill from Los Angeles, California using source material from the National Library of France Europeana. This gif is made available under a CC-BY-SA license.

Transforming paintings with Artificial Intelligence

Not only can users make a painting move, but they can even make it smile. Last week, UK designer Olly Gibbs entertained Twitter by going to the Rijksmuseum ‘armed with FaceApp to brighten up a lot of the sombre looks on the paintings and sculptures’. Using the app that usually transforms users’ faces in photos using Artificial Intelligence (to make them look older/younger, more attractive, etc.), he managed to give a new look to grumpy looking classic portraits and sculptures with a series of pictures that quickly went viral. Following this initiative (which has its own hashtag on Twitter, search for #MuseumFaceApp), Europeana, home to a lot of public domain artworks, has encouraged users to revisit and ‘cheer up’ their favourite classic portraits themselves and share their own results on social media.

Self-Portrait with Fur-Trimmed Robe | Albrecht Dürer, Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Public domain

Colouring artworks on social media

Libraries, archives and museums around the world are using these opportunities to get people interacting with their collections in new creative ways. Over the week long campaign #ColourOurCollection led on social media, they recently revisited another trend: colouring books. People were invited to download free books compiling public domain artworks, to colour them, and submit their own versions on Twitter using the hashtag #ColourOurCollections. Europeana took part in 2017 with the Art Nouveau Coloring Book on the occasion on the Art Nouveau exhibition, and in 2016 with the Colouring Book for Grown-ups. Other participating institutions taking part included The Met and the New York Public Library.

Boekband Metamorphose, Jan Toorop, Rijksmuseum, Public Domain

Has your institution tried similar initiatives? What did you think of it? Let us know your thoughts!

by Camille Tenneson