Pot of Gold Part 1

By Gretchen | October 24, 2013

Part 1 | There’s a pot of gold to find!

It’s been a couple of months now since Open Culture 2013. The brain – well, my brain! – has had some time to process what we heard. In the last blog, I mentioned I’d be writing about all of the doing we heard about. Let’s start with a poignant statement from Merete Sanderhoff Researcher for Statens Museums for Kunst, (SMK) the National Museum of Denmark and a Member of the Open GLAM Advisory Board), which summarises why we should open up collections (presentation here). When introducing the work SMK has done to provide free access high quality digital images of collections, she said: this is where the gold is right now!

Where are the pots of gold?

Sanderhoff began her talk with the above painting of the Danish coast, which the artist Johan Thomas Lundbye has exaggerated because Denmark is a small country with a very flat landscape. Like this artist, SMK could be said to be using digital means to appear to be larger than perhaps its physical and national profile suggest. SMK has been developing pioneering work by opening up collections through digitalisation aimed at having an impact not only on the institution itself but also on Danish and international communities. Part of this process was setting up an international peer advisory committee, to advise how to start strategically thinking about opening up their collections via digital projects. Michael Edson, Director of Web and New Media Strategy at Smithsonian Institution, sat on this Committee and advised SMK to – Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast! These words stuck with Sanderhoff and her colleagues and helped them to see that they could start doing by creating small manageable projects. Firstly, they offeredfree download of artworks via the Google Art Project sharing 160 paintings from their collection via easy downloading (as easy as ‘click and save as’; no registration form to fill in here!) of high quality images under a Creative Commons License. Secondly, young volunteers known as art pilots created a project to take some of the above works of art out to urban spaces, working with the public and community groups to creatively re-use the digital images and create artworks for Metro fences. These projects were pots of gold and, like Lundbye’s painting ‘amplified the museum’s reach’. The collections are constantly re-used: Wikimedia harvested all of the images when they were released in April 2012 and images from the SMK collection are being used in over 500 Wikipedia articles in 27 languages. SMK share their efforts in order to encourage external re-use; this was one of their objectives. They have gone from an institution with limited digital capacity, to now knowing how to use digital tools in smart ways, resulting in organisational and policy changes. See the links on OpenGLAM Open Collections list and the Europeana case study: Value of open data.

Read full post here. (Originally posted on October 2013)