Make European Cultural Heritage Accessible to the World

  • Posted on: September 6, 2011
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Wikimedians team up to make European Cultural Heritage Accessible to the World
Volunteers from 16 European Countries Have Uploaded 15,000 Images and Counting

Participating countries

Wikimedians from 16 European countries announced the first-ever Pan-European Wiki Loves Monuments contest, a photography contest, running throughout the month of September, focused on capturing and sharing images of important monuments and buildings in Europe. Since its September 1st launch, more than 1000 images have been uploaded from a few of the most active countries: France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain.

Europe has hundreds of thousands of historically and culturally significant monuments and buildings, most of which still have no freely-available images on the Internet. These important structures are often damaged or destroyed overtime, endangering the opportunity for people all over the world to access and learn about them. Although some prominent cultural artifacts are protected and documented by various international organizations and agencies, a majority of them are not. Wikipedia is one of the only freely-accessible shared places on the Internet offering a digital home to these artifacts, however, most of the culturally significant buildings and monuments in Europe are missing. This contest aims to make sure that they are represented in the form of images so that everyone, European or not, has access to Europe’s cultural heritage.

“Wikimeda’s ultimate goal is to make all information freely available to everyone in the world, and images of Europe’s important cultural structures are needed to complete this mission. All over Europe, important monuments are tucked away from the rest of the world–they haven’t been documented or shared on a website like Wikipedia,” said Lodewijk Gelauff, one of the lead organizers of the European contest. “There are hundreds of thousands of monuments that people walk past every day and they have no idea these structures are culturally significant and should be shared.”

The winning photo of 2010

The contest is inspired by the successful 2010 pilot contest conducted in the Netherlands, which resulted in 12,500 freely-licensed images of monuments and buildings now freely-available to be used on Wikipedia and by anybody in the world. Wiki Loves Monuments runs throughout the entire month of September and is organized in independent national contests. Winning images from regional contests will then be submitted to the pan-European Jury. Participating partner countries include: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

The contest is supported by international organizations including the Council of Europe, the European Commission, Europeana and Europa Nostra. The month of September was selected as it coincides with European Heritage Days organized throughout Europe. Prizes, including a full scholarship to Wikimania in Washington, DC, will be awarded to winners medio December. More information about the contest and how to enter can be found

“Europe’s cultural artifacts have universal significance. And it’s not just about the documentation of these artifacts, it’s about making sure they’re accessible to people no matter who you are or where you live in the world,” says Gelauff.

Press contacts and press releases per country:

About Wikimedia
Wikimedia is the movement behind Wikipedia, supporting the same goals on realizing a world where all knowledge is freely available for every human being. This is possible through the US-based Wikimedia Foundation and a network of national associations which co-operate closely with the volunteers on the Wikimedia projects, such as Wikipedia.

About Wikipedia
Wikipedia and the other projects operated by the Wikimedia Foundation receive more than 390 million unique visitors per month, making them the 5th most popular web property world-wide (July 2011). Available in more than 270 languages, Wikipedia contains more than 18 million articles contributed by hundreds of thousands of people all over the world.

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