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2 minutes to read Posted on Wednesday June 17, 2020

Updated on Wednesday June 17, 2020

portrait of Valentina Bachi

Valentina Bachi

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

Rediscover the 1950s: presenting the Fifties in Europe Kaleidoscope project

The Fifties in Europe Kaleidoscope is a Europeana Generic Services Project funded under CEF Telecom Programme. Starting in September 2018, the project delivered content to Europeana on the topic of the 1950s in Europe and developed experimental approaches to digital photographic heritage to support engagement. In this post we explore some of the activities the project has delivered.

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Title: “Blue Skies, Red Panic” exhibition in Pisa

Creator: Rudy Pessina

Date: 6 September 2019

Institution: Fifties in Europe Kaleidoscope project


New content and innovation

In addition to delivering around  18,000 hitherto unseen photographs of the 1950s to Europeana, the Fifties in Europe Kaleidoscope project made use of innovative approaches and tools to enhance audience experiences with Europeana content. 

We collected information and feedback about two tools which encourage interaction and engagement with digital photographic heritage collections: WithCrowd annotation tool and the Visual Similarity Search. 

WithCrowd allows people to collect annotations on content available through the Europeana collections website, and, after a process of curation and validation, uses these annotations to enrich Europeana records. The platform also hosts crowdsourcing campaigns through which contributors can add and validate semantic annotations in a user-friendly and engaging way.

The Visual Similarity Search tool uses advanced algorithm technology to recognise predefined themes and link images based on their visual resemblance. To demonstrate the potential of the algorithm in real world scenarios, the project developed a test mobile application as a demo, that allows users to submit a picture and retrieve a set of matching images.

Blue Skies, Red Panic

The Fifties in Europe Kaleidoscope project also organised an exhibition entitled Blue Skies, Red Panic. This showcase explores and documents the 1950s through images from the collections of project partners and Europeana. The exhibition was presented in a wide range of formats, from a physical setup launched at the Museum of Graphics in Pisa and then shown across Europe, to an online exhibition on the Europeana collections website. 

The final iteration of Blue Skies, Red Panic made use of MuPop, a digital exhibition tool that combines social interaction and digital showcases. It encouraged online dialogue between visitors to the exhibition, bridging the physical (an on-site screen) and digital (the virtual nature of the showcase). 

Blue Skies MuPop debuted at the Day of Science at KU Leuven and was used in other project’s events, also celebrating the successful conclusion to the project at its final conference in the Museum für Fotografie in Berlin (20-21 February 2020). 

Title: The interactive exhibition at the Day of Science in Leuven

Creator: KU Leuven l CS Digital

Date: 24th November 2019

Institution: Fifties in Europe Kaleidoscope project


Focus Groups and Workshops

The Fifties in Europe Kaleidoscope project consortium has also organised a number of events, focus groups and workshops with cultural heritage professionals, academic researchers, students, artists and local citizens. For example, the Memories workshop in Girona entitled ‘Family Photo Talks’ used oral history as a methodology to generate and transmit knowledge. The Crowdsourcing workshop in Athens invited participants to contribute to the Kaleidoscope annotation WithCrowd campaigns focused on the themes of 1950s Style and Design and 1950s Transport and Travel. The Rephotography workshop in Coventry focused on repeat photography as a way of engaging users with ‘then’ (1950s) and ‘now’.

Title: “Coventry Then and Now” re-photography workshop

Creator: Maria Polodeanu

Date: 3 December 2019

Institution: Fifties in Europe Kaleidoscope project


Resources for education

In collaboration with CultureMoves project, we developed and successfully launched a MOOC in January 2020, which will be repeated in the next academic year. Entitled, ‘Creating a digital cultural heritage community’, the MOOC is hosted on the EdX platform and aims to create capacity in engaging audiences with cultural heritage through digital practices, discovering and engaging with the online collections available via Europeana. The course shows examples of photography and dance, which both have links to perception and memory and foster dialogue around cultural heritage. The images of the postwar period demonstrate how photographs both reflect reality as well as shape and influence it. The Kaleidoscope project also delivered a Learning Scenario about life in the 1950s for publication on the TeachwithEuropeana blog.

This post was written by project partners Valentina Bachi (Photoconsortium), Sofie Taes (KU Leuven), Elaine O’Sullivan (Coventry University), Frederik Temmermans (imec), Maria Ralli (NTUA).