Nordic Museum Foundation, Sweden - Public Domain.
Migrants also interact with cultural heritage, migrant populations also have a set of cultural reference elements with which they pass on their existence. Every European community has some experience of migration, either passively or actively, so telling the story of migration also tells the story of Europe. Recognising the importance of this, the Europeana platform has decided to dedicate one of its collections of data and works to celebrate the contribution that people who migrate make to European culture.
Europeana is a digital platform, funded by the European Union, whose aim is the digitisation of European heritage. The system is mainly supported by Aggregators, which gather groups of items and take care of their retrieval and the addition of metadata linked to the uploaded item. Collections are data that are grouped under one theme and serve to facilitate the retrieval of these elements, which otherwise appear scattered because they come from different sources.
The idea of creating a collection dedicated to migration started in 2018: during the European Year of Culture, Europeana decided to contribute by calling into question the very notion of migrant, so linked in the political discourse to the concept of crisis. Adrian Murphy, collection manager at Europeana, explained that they wanted "to show a positive side of migration - that it is not simply a part of European culture but has enriched it. Migration has made us and continues to make us who we are."
For the collection on the site, documentary evidence and material culture were sought over a time period of several centuries: special attention was paid to see the influence of migration flows on art and science. Together with galleries, museums, libraries and archives, 18 workshops in 12 different countries were organised to enrich the collection. Participants, brought together by more than 40 partners, told more than 600 stories, with about 1000 items digitised.
One of the difficulties that arose in the selection phase was figuring out what was actually related to migration: some works, such as photographs of people travelling on planes or ships, might seem inherent. But from a metadata point of view, the element can be described in many other ways. Similarly, there are artists who, forced to migrate, have changed their way of understanding art. In such cases, Europeana has decided not to include these elements in the collection, but to give them space in other spaces more dedicated to digital storytelling.
An example is the online exhibition People on the Move, a digital story/exhibition animated by the pictures, the photographs and the paintings present on Europeana who developed in some way the topic of migration.
Adrian Murphy stated that "all of these activities combined to show that the Europe we inhabit today is the result of a flow of people and ideas and that migration is woven through and enriches our everyday lives in many ways". For this whole project, Europeana worked with many organisations across Europe: from national libraries to local museums and many other cultural heritage organisations. These kinds of collaborations are at the heart of the dream behind Europeana: the idea of a pan-European heritage, shared by so many entities far and near at the same time, is the driving force behind this digitisation project. This is why the project has not stopped: since the initial event in 12 different countries, similar meetings have been held in Ireland, Belgium, Croatia and the UK. Europeana intends to continue telling these stories, convinced that the stories of migration in Europe are Europe's very identity.
Navigate through Europeana Migration!
This article has been written by Marco Fiore - Michael Culture Association