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2 minutes to read Posted on Thursday December 6, 2018

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Harry Verwayen

Harry Verwayen

General Director , Europeana Foundation

The gates are open: 10 perspectives on the future of digital culture

As part of our tenth anniversary celebrations, Europeana Foundation Executive Director, Harry Verwayen, introduces 'The gates are open: 10 perspectives on the future of digital culture'.

The gates are open: 10 perspectives on the future of digital culture
The gates are open: 10 perspectives on the future of digital culture
Europeana Foundation
November 2018
Europeana Foundation
The Netherlands

Ten years ago, on 20 November 2008, Europeana catapulted into the world. A small team, led by its Director Jill Cousins, had worked frantically for months to prepare for the launch that would make Europe’s cultural heritage available to the world.

And there it was: a website.

But not just another website. It was the result of the inspiring idea, backed by a letter from six heads of state to then President of the European Commission Mr Barroso, that Europe should take ownership and responsibility of its past and make it an integral part of its future.

I was immediately hooked.

Today, Europeana is still that place designed to empower cultural heritage institutions to share their collections, freely and unobstructedly, with the world. Over the past decade, we have experienced highlights that we cherish and moments when it felt like everything was in vain. You win some, you lose some.

But the drive and energy that sparked this initiative have always remained with us. This spirit is alive in our team at the Europeana Foundation, the thousands of people that form the Europeana Network Association, the friends we have in civil society organisations like the Wikimedia Foundation and Creative Commons, all the cultural innovators that we have worked and played with over the years.  

To celebrate our anniversary, it therefore made perfect sense to ask our friends to give us a sneak preview of how they see the future. No heavy-handed manifestos but freestyle provocations about the opportunities and pitfalls of a world transformed with culture.

The future is here. ‘The gates are already open’, informs George Oates. How that future shapes up is, to a large extent, up to us, our friends suggest. ‘It will take imagination and courage to rethink old assumptions, lift our vision, and make the world anew’ says Michael Peter Edson.

Are you game? Read on.