Connected Open Heritage

– Preserving cultural heritage at risk online, and giving people easy access to it. edit



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Connected Open Heritage

The greatest threat towards the cultural heritage is lack of knowledge and disinterest. The best way to protect the cultural heritage is therefore knowledge and information that is easy to find and free
Lars Amréus, Director-General of the National Heritage Board of Sweden.

Project log

Here we will continuously list the milestones in the project.

  • December 2021:
    • The Connected Open Heritage portal is updated to better reflect the existing initiative.
  • September-November 2021:
    • Monuments from Norway are added to Wikidata.
    • Monuments from Serbia are added to Wikidata.
    • Monuments from Denmark are being prepared for upload to Wikidata.
  • April 2017:
    • More image collections from SMVK has been uploaded. We are also planning an event with them in September. They have adopted an internal policy of openness where are cooperation has been valuable as an example for the internal discussions.
    • Datasets from Sweden has mainly been transferred to Wikidata. The data from the Nordic countries has been prepared.
    • The work with the photo exhibition has continued. We are finalizing an agreement with UNESCO about becoming an official partner in their flagship project Unite4Heritage. This will allow us to hang the photo exhibition at their HQ in Paris, and most likely also in New York and in Geneva.
    • We have worked with UNESCO staff to batch upload images from UNESCO’s archive (ca. 1,500 images of World Heritage Sites). We are also helping them to build a solution that will make it fast and easy to upload individual images from their archive to Wikimedia Commons.
    • Together with the Swedish National Heritage board and UNESCO we launched UNESCO Challenge on International Day For Monuments and Sites 2017 on 18 April.
    • UNESCO released a large number of texts about World Heritage sites under a free license so that volunteers can used them in the UNESCO Challenge.
    • Continuous development of the visualization tool Monumental. It now works on mobile.
    • A peer-reviewed article about the work with the database, for the conference Digital Heritage 2017, has been accepted. The article will be ready for print in June.
    • We have prepared a trip to Uganda and Kenya to discuss Open Data, involvement of the general public in cultural heritage protection and dissemination of information through the Wikimedia projects. We will also meet with ISOC Uganda to discuss a Wikipedia project they are running and that we have been supporting.
    • We are working with the Swedish National Heritage Board with uploading a very large set of images from Kulturmiljöbild.
    • Cultural Heritage without Borders Bosnia and Herzegovina has sent us the first examples of extracted data of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s protected cultural heritage for comments and feedback.
  • December 2016:
    • Preparations are being finalized for the batch uploads of images from Mexico and Cyprus.
    • We are sending in the second report to the funders.
  • November 2016:
    • Participation at the EuroMed 2016 Conference. Our peer-reviewed paper "Reaching the world through free licenses and Wikimedia’s crowdsourced platforms" (focusing on the COH project) in competition with 502 other submitted articles received a price. It won the "Werner Weber Best Paper Award for SHORT Paper" (one of three categories).
    • Organized a mapping workshop at the National Museums of World Culture, Stockholm.
    • Had a number of meetings with museum directors in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
    • Prepared a request for structured data from Commission to preserve national monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina. As a backup plan we have worked with our partner organization on a strategy for how their volunteers can extract data from reports.
  • October 2016:
    • No update to the log was done.
  • September 2016:
    • No update to the log was done.
  • August 2016:
    • Arrange the visit of Wikimedia Sverige and CHwB in September to the Republic of Georgia. The Ministry of Culture and a number of Agencies have replied positively and dates are fixed.
    • A contact address within the Ministry of Culture in Mali was given by the Swedish Embassy. Translations into French of our material must be handled before we approach them again.
    • The first batch upload of images of threatened cultural heritage has been finalized (from GAR). External communication has been sent out to media.
    • 3 more batch uploads from GLAMs are being prepared.
    • Plans are being developed around importing 9-10,000 immovable cultural heritage images from UNESCO's Mediabank.
    • Initial preparations for a writing contest on Wikipedia, the UNESCO Challenge, with the new UNESCO World Heritage sites as the theme has been done.
    • The instruction material for Data partners and GLAM partners on our project portal on Meta are now easily translatable.
    • Created an OTRS form for data for Wikidata.
    • Meeting with World Heritage about open licensing the descriptions of World Heritage sites.
    • Worked on defining the scope and organizing the photo exhibition that will be exhibited in at least three countries.
    • Worked with Wikimedia volunteers to create a working Wikidata infoboxes for buildings (World Heriatge sites) e.g Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City.
    • 3 new countries (Iran, Kosovo and Albania) now have lists with cultural heritage on Wikipedia and are in the Monument database (this is the first step of moving them onto Wikidata).
    • A new Project Assistant, Eric Luth, has been hired and will help us execute the project in an even more effective way.
  • July 2016:
    • Mostly summer holidays.
  • June 2016:
    • Our submission to the DCDC conference in the UK is accepted! We also get one free ticket for WMUK.
    • WMIT signs agreements with Gruppo Archeologico Romano (GAR) and DecArch about Syrian images that will be uploaded.
    • The Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities and the Museum of Ethnography decides to change the license to images in their archive from Mexico and Cyprus and provide us with high quality scans and better metadata.
    • We publish a report about how to move data to Wikidata.
    • Volunteer Tasks are added to the portal.
    • Planning our meetings with decision makers in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Georgia.
    • The Swedish embassy in Mali will assist us in the project.
    • Participating at Wikimania with a workshop about mapping WLM data to Wikidata.
    • Adding Iran to the WLM database so that we can move it to Wikidata later.
    • Creating a connection between the WLM database and Wikidata so that we can see all changes and add them to Wikidata before we, some day, turn off the WLM database.
    • Participating at Wikimania with a presentation about the project and about the work done by the movement around cultural heritage.
  • May 2016:
    • One of the project members got a baby! The work around batch uploading is halted temporarily because of this.
    • A discussion on Wikidata has been initiated around the migrating the information in the Wiki Loves Monuments (WLM) database to Wikidata.
    • Information material for GLAM cooperations as part of the project was created.
    • The preparation of the photo exhibition has started.
    • Preparations to go to Wikimania!
  • April 2016:
    • A new staff member (developer) started working full time within the project.
    • The type of cultural heritage data needed has been specified.
    • Participation at the Wikimedia Hackathon where the "Monument Database Tech Committee" discussed and worked on issues concerning the WLM database.
    • A poster for Wikimania was created.
    • The possibilities around working with cultural heritage experts in islands in the Pacific continued to be investigated. Country reports for three small island states, Palau, Fiji and Samoa, has been created.
    • The attachment for decision makers has been finalized.
    • The judicial situation with the data around cultural heritage was investigated and a number of problems has been identified.
    • Participation at the Wikimedia Conference 2016 in Berlin where the project was discussed with a number of movement representatives.
  • March 2016:
    • Agreement signed around batch upload of images from Palmyra.
    • More country reports have been prepared.
    • The country selection criteria are developed.
    • Participation in a number of relevant events.
    • Investigation of a possible spin-off project to include 3D-objects on Wikimedia Commons is initiated.
  • February 2016:
    • Recruiting of new technical staff members for Wikimedia Sverige started.
    • First Country reports published.
    • Wikimania submission for a critical issue accepted.
  • January 2016:
    • The project starts.
    • We create a detailed time plan for our internal work.
    • We announce the project on email lists, on a few Village pumps and we create this Meta page. A couple of different blog posts are published and a press release.
    • We sign contracts with our project partners.


Background edit

Wars and disasters, negligence and poor maintenance all mean that much of our built cultural heritage, such as monuments, archaeological sites etc., is at risk of being lost forever. Interest and knowledge are needed to prevent its destruction. To help preserve our existing built cultural heritage and to understand lost heritage through recreation and restoration, accurate and reliable information needs to be easily accessible to everyone, for free.

The Connected Open Heritage (Kopplat Öppet Kulturarv, KÖK) intiative are using the experience from previous projects within the Wikimedia movement to gather as much information as possible about cultural heritage on Wikimedia projects and to build on the work done by volunteers all over the world. The aim is to make it easier to search for the built cultural heritage that you care for. The original 2016-2017 project was funded by the Culture Foundation of the Swedish Postcode Lottery and lasted until June 2017.


The aim of this initiative is to improve and create knowledge about the built cultural heritage of the world and make it available digitally, with open and free licenses. This will increase the awareness and interest to save the world's cultural heritage.

If you or your organisation hold data, text, images or other media about built cultural heritage please click here to find out how you can be involved.


Goals edit

To achieve this aim the project has five goals:

  1. Make the information on Wikimedia projects more user friendly.
  2. Make cultural heritage data from more countries available on Wikimedia projects.
  3. Update existing cultural heritage data on Wikimedia projects.
  4. Cooperate with heritage organizations to make their media available on Wikimedia Commons.
  5. Spread information about the resources created within the project.

In the 2016-2017 project the SMART goals were:

  • Migrate the information in the Wiki Loves Monuments (WLM) database to Wikidata.
  • Improve data on listed cultural heritage from 10 new countries to Wikidata, the countries currently identified are Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mali and Georgia.
  • Presentations or participation in at least 10 relevant conferences with the aim to show the work done in the Wikimedia movement in the area of cultural heritage preservation.
  • Outreach to at least 1,000 experts in the field.
  • At least 100,000 images of historical cultural heritage objects uploaded from institutions or experts.
  • At least 10,000,000 views of uploaded material through the Wikimedia platforms during 2016, with at least 50,000,000 views each following year. To achieve this 10 activities will be held for volunteers to include uploaded material in all Wikimedia projects.
  • At least 25 media reports about the work.
  • A photographic exhibition in at least 3 countries.
  • The production of a final report with lessons learned, made available to the Wikimedia community.

Method and activities edit

The main and fundamental activity of the 2016-2017 project and the continued work in 2021 is to modernize the handling of built cultural heritage data. This will be done by transferring all information from the Wiki Loves Monuments (WLM) database to Wikidata, identify other datasets and import them and develop the tools needed to make the data more useful and so more valuable. The project will determine how WLM datasets can be matched with the structure of Wikidata and how the data can be uploaded. The method will be continuously evaluated and developed after each dataset and done in close collaboration with Wikimedia volunteers and staff. The project will explore and share methods for keeping Wikidata updated with data from official sources.

In parallel we will begin work to update existing data, add more data, more media and link it to other information sources. The selection process concerning what data and media to add to Wikidata will be based primarily on the needs of Wikimedia volunteers, and secondly based on requests from our partners in the heritage sector and then, if time permits, other stakeholders' wishes. Data from all over the world will be added, with a particular focus on countries in Africa, Asia and Southern Europe. We will actively work to convince decision-makers to release built cultural heritage data and media under an open license. To be able to reach the right people and to get a better understanding of the local situation we will use the vast networks of UNESCO, Cultural Heritage without Borders and of the wider Wikimedia movement.

We will also work with GLAM institutions all over the world to add media files related to cultural heritage to Wikimedia Commons, achieved through batch uploads.

To contextualise the media and data we will run events aimed at adding the new material to Wikipedia.

We will put in a considerable amount of work into communication about this great resource which will include creation of information materials, press releases, blog post and social media to participation at conferences concerning cultural heritage, GLAM, education, Open Data and humanitarian aid.


Get involved edit

If you are interested in being involved in the project please sign up on the Get Involved page. For any other questions please e-mail john.andersson .


Wikimania edit