2 minutes to read Posted on Thursday September 30, 2021

Updated on Thursday September 30, 2021

portrait of Sofie Taes

Sofie Taes

Research Assistant / Curator / Comms officer , Catholic University of Leuven

portrait of Valentina Bachi

Valentina Bachi

Contact point for Photoconsortium , Photoconsortium - International Consortium for Photographic Heritage

PAGODE - Europeana China: landmarks and legacy

The PAGODE project aimed to increase engagement with the Chinese heritage collections preserved in Europe, and established a dedicated section in the Europeana website to share this rich content. We look back over the last 18 months of the completed project.

A man looks over the Great Wall of China
Title: Journey through China
Creator: United Archives / Carl Simon
Date: 1910-01-01
Institution: United Archives / Carl Simon
Country: Germany

An ambitious adventure

PAGODE - Europeana China (a Europeana Generic Services project co-financed by the European Union under the Connecting Europe Facility Programme) ran from 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2021. The project aimed to support European cultural institutions to give digital access to 10,000 new objects related to Chinese heritage. It envisaged the enrichment of 20,000 Europeana objects by using Linked Open Data Vocabularies and of 2,000 records through crowdsourcing via the CrowdHeritage platform. The project also committed to creating editorials for Europeana, presenting a travelling physical exhibition, a collection day and a conference. Finally, one of the tasks entailed traveling to China to establish new collaborations in support of the Europeana China initiative, launched in 2018. 

All that was on the menu at the beginning of the project early April 2020. A few weeks later, the COVID-19 crisis forced the project to recalibrate and devise new ways of engaging content providers and target audiences.

Rising to the occasion with reimagined events

Because of travel restrictions, all physical events for the project were put on hold and eventually cancelled. Initially a hybrid approach was considered but by late 2020 the crisis forced the project consortium to re-tune to the digital realm, which resulted in the ‘PAGODE Digital Festival’. This programme of online events was coordinated by Photoconsortium with collaboration of PAGODE partners and EFHA.

The project's final conference was also transformed into a two-day online programme of keynote speeches, presentations and collection showcases, while the physical exhibition was reimagined as a hybrid concept entailing a catalogue in printed book form as a companion piece to the Europeana exhibition China in perspective (21 September 2021).

Title: Promotional image for the PAGODE Digital Festival
Institution: Photoconsortium

Above and beyond - content, editorial and metadata

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, PAGODE was able to attract more content providers besides the two initially involved (KIK-IRPA and United Archives). The project gathered around 16,000 items from 11 content providers (as opposed to the 10,000 items envisaged initially), digitised at top quality standards and at the highest Tier of the Europeana Publishing Framework. These new collections fed into 21 published pieces of editorial and 22 browse discovery points on the Europeana website, many more than the 10 originally planned.

As a result of the continuous dialogue with Europeana a feature page was established to showcase these items, hosting both the entity collection on ‘China’ and all editorial produced within the project. This page is a substantial legacy that hopefully will serve as a jumping board for more ventures into Chinese cultural heritage. The PAGODE project partners have also provided new blogs and galleries to be published after the end of the project term, and added additional browse discovery points to keep the Chinese heritage page and other pages on the Europeana website updated after the end of the project.

Title: Fô-leeuw
Creator: A ceramic lion
Date: 1801
Institution: Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA) (Brussels, Belgium)
Country: Belgium

Metadata enrichment results also far exceeded expectations. Building on their work on a semantic and conceptual framework for Chinese heritage in Europe, the University of Ljubljana then compiled lists of keywords. These were used for creating metadata, for extracting metadata properties from existing collections, adding information via AI and automated semantic enrichments (c. 22,000 records), and executing three annotation campaigns (Scenes and people from China, Artefacts, Summer sprint - c. 4,000 records). This means that people using Europeana will be able to more easily explore and find more information about the objects.

Finally, PAGODE fulfilled its promise to guide China-related content towards existing Europeana thematic pages, by identifying cross-over opportunities and providing a set of topics and collections for future blogs, galleries and exhibitions. Through these efforts, PAGODE has been exemplary in furthering the diversity of collections on Europeana, on the path to a more inclusive cultural heritage sector. 

Title: Results of the Summer annotation sprint: over 67.000 crowdsourced contributions enriching Europeana records
Institution: Photoconsortium

Find out more

All project outcomes are available on the project website maintained by Photoconsortium. A section dedicated to Good Practices presents the PAGODE tools pertaining to quality standards, semantic research, metadata creation and enrichment. Reports on the two technical workshops and video recordings from the PAGODE Digital Festival and the Final Conference are available as well. The PAGODE book can be downloaded for free via this link