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2 minutes to read Posted on Wednesday April 17, 2019

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Adrian Murphy

Adrian Murphy

Europeana Collections Manager , Europeana Foundation

Looking back at the Europeana Migration campaign

As part of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, Europeana in partnership with museums, galleries, libraries and archives across Europe, held 18 collection days in 12 countries on the theme of migration.

collage showing 27 people, each holding an object
Europeana Migration contributors
Europeana Foundation

People, young and old, shared their migration stories, with material such as pictures, diaries, videos and letters. More than 600 stories were shared - both at the events and online - with just under 1,000 objects digitised. In total, more than 3,000 people attended events which included collection days, exhibitions, debates and lectures. 

Throughout the campaign, we surveyed those taking part - whether they were organising events, sharing their stories or reading our editorial. We’re happy to now share a short summary of what we found out.  

European Year of Cultural Heritage

2018 was the European Year of Cultural Heritage. Europeana Migration was our major contribution to the year. Our partners told us that being part of the Europeana Foundation’s contribution to the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 was an important motivation for them. 

Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said, ‘The Europeana migration campaign – helping people to re-discover their roots and make them aware of the value of diversity – is just one example of how Europeana has been helping to make heritage resources more accessible, engaging citizens with digitised heritage and promoting the use and re-use of digital content for educational purposes.’


It was a truly collaborative campaign with more than 40 partners. 

Partners, when surveyed, told us that the project led them to establish new relationships with other organisations, as well as helping them attract new audiences.

Mervyn Greene, of EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, says, ‘Europeana Migration has transformed how we engage with the public. It has provided us with the impetus and the platform to engage with new Irish communities allowing us to build connections, not just collections.'

In addition to cultural heritage organisations, we brought the campaign to education settings too. We worked with the British School in the Netherlands to embed the campaign into their education modules. More than 50 schoolchildren, along with their families and teachers, chose and wrote about an object to signify their (or their families’) migration stories. Read a case study about this.

The value of participation

Surveying those who shared a story, we saw that everyone who replied found it a positive experience. After sharing their story, a majority of respondents reported a more positive view of their identity, higher levels of self-esteem and self-confidence. 

One participant said, ‘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… [and] I have achieved more in life than I thought.’

Participants said it was important to record and preserve their own, their family’s and their community’s stories and histories relating to migration.

One participant said, ‘Knowing history is the best way to learn about who we are why we do what we do and to avoid to repeat mistakes. I wanted to share my story to contribute to the collective knowledge of history.’

Read more

We've expanded on the findings above and described the campaign and its results, to add more context, in this presentation.

What’s next?

The migration thematic collection continues to be a part of Europeana Collections, and we have developed a participation platform to share and publish user-generated migration stories. You can download more information and templates for organising events here. If you have any questions, or are interested in sharing stories from your family, community or project, or holding an event of your own, please contact Adrian Murphy

Thank you

Europeana Migration would not have been possible without the cooperation of many people and organisations across Europe. We thank the organisations and Europeana Network members who hosted and organised events, those who spread the news about the campaign, and, most of all, people across Europe who shared their personal stories with us. They made this campaign.