Opening up Cultural heritage collections and institutions

Over the last decennium digitisation of collections and infrastructures has dramatically changed the way cultural heritage institutions can interact with their audiences. Museums, archives and other cultural heritage institutions digitised large parts of their collections, and initiated online services to make these available online. This digitisation process radically changed the position of cultural heritage institutions as the outreach of a digital collection is much larger than that of a physical collection.

Opening up <span>Cultural heritage</span> collections and institutions
De Gouden Bocht in de Herengracht in Amsterdam vanuit het oosten

olieverf op paneel, h 42,5cm × b 57,9cm. Door de explosieve bevolkingstoename van Amsterdam moest de stad in de 17de eeuw enkele malen worden vergroot. Dit schilderij toont een deel van de wereldberoemde grachtengordel. De afgebeelde bocht was het domein van de allerrijksten. Toen Berckheyde dit zonovergoten stadsgezicht schilderde, waren enkele huizen nog niet voltooid. Een aantal kavels was zelfs nog onbebouwd.

Maker: Gerrit Adriaensz Berckheyde




A strong knowledge-driven society subsists because of access to information. By making digital heritage collections available in an open and innovative way, knowledge can thrive. Since the beginning of large-scale mass digitisation projects, Kennisland supports innovation of the cultural heritage sector. We do this in the context of Europeana, as a partner in the Images for the Future project and as one of the initiators of the Open Cultuur Data network.

“When cultural heritage is digital, open and shareable, it becomes common property, something that is right at hand every day. It becomes a part of us.” – Merete Sanderhoff Foreword to Sharing is Caring

Within the domain of cultural heritage, we aim to reach three goals:

  1. Employ the social and economic potential of the sector
    Cultural heritage that is made available in an open and innovative way can generate social and economic value. This is why we encourage cooperation between cultural heritage institutions and other stakeholders. We hope to engender innovative services and products. An example is the cooperation between the Dutch National Archive and Wikimedia. Collections of the National Archive are revived and reach a wider audience after they have been included in the biggest online encyclopedia. This way, the user value and outreach of the collection grow incrementally. An important element of this is our advocacy work for a more modern copyright system that provides more room for cultural heritage institutions to make their collection online available.
  2. Increase access to digital heritage
    Cultural heritage should not only be preserved for conservation purposes, but also to be reused. That is why we believe that open should be the standard in access to digitised cultural heritageCultural heritage should not only be preserved for conservation purposes, but also to be reused. That is why open access to heritage should be the standard in access to cultural heritage.. For easy reuse, the material needs to be coupled with relevant data about the object (metadata). We support cultural heritage institutions in the process of making their data open and publicly available. Ideally, these principles are anchored in digitisation policies. Kennisland shares its knowledge and experiences, and together with users we encourage applications for reuse of content and metadata of open cultural data, for example in our project Open Culture Data.
  3. Stimulate experiment with public services
    Digital services (such as apps, websites and installations) help to improve access to cultural collections. A good app or website effectively reaches either a wider or a very specific audience. Kennisland actively stimulates the development of such services andCooperation between different parties leads to bigger outreach of cultural heritage. encourages experimentation, to therefore maximise the social and economic value of cultural heritage. Experiments can take the shape of for example T_Visionarium OPEN CITY and Celluloid Remix. Another example is the open video platform Open Images, that we have developed together with the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision. By making historical video material available in fully open formats and under open licenses Open Images has become the number 1 provider++Open ImagesRead more about the platform. of video material for wikipedia.

More information about what we do to make cultural heritage accessible in an open and innovative way? E-mail Maarten Zeinstra:

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