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Building a worldwide database of Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums and their collections on Wikipedia, available free, for everyone, to use and improve

Wikimedia Sverige (Sweden), UNESCO and the Wikimedia Foundation are working to build a truly worldwide database of cultural heritage institutions and their collections on Wikipedia, the largest and most popular educational site in the world. We will empower cultural organisations to share their knowledge and content with the world through collaboration, training, documentation and case studies. The project will lay the groundwork for long term and sustainable collaboration between cultural organisations and the Wikimedia movement (the organisations behind Wikipedia and other free educational websites).

The data made available will be structured, queryable and under open licenses to give it the widest possible audience allowing users to explore it many ways. The data can be used by apps and websites including being integrated with Wikipedia and used by search services including Google, Siri and others.

Having an overview of the cultural heritage institutions of the world is important to help them gain protection through visibility. In many natural and man made disasters, cultural heritage institutions have been damaged, lack of basic information (e.g their location) has made response more difficult. This project will work towards helping solve this problem. Making this information visible and explorable will let more people learn about cultural heritage from many different cultures, it will create new insights and new knowledge.

Wikidata editing challenge


To encourage more people to edit data about GLAMs on Wikidata, we're running the FindingGLAMs Challenge on February 17th–February 23rd, 2020..



GLAM context


Cultural heritage tells us how our societies are formed and our common history. Sharing cultural heritage on the web has an incredible potential for increasing knowledge, awareness and understanding of our common heritage. The digitisation of the world's cultural expressions is in an early phase with experience and expertise unevenly distributed. There is currently no worldwide database of the world's museums, archives and libraries and their collections.

Wikimedia context


Wikipedia is the most used educational website in the world, serving 500 million people each month. Wikipedia provides a huge amount of cultural information, it has articles on over 69,000 museums, 16,000 libraries and 1,950 archives, however, this is only a fraction, it is estimated there are approximately 2.2 million libraries worldwide. This project will allow us to understand what is missing. Wikimedia platforms have evolved into becoming an important component of the internet. It has both the technical infrastructure and the scale needed to undertake a project of this size. All material created during the project will be released under free licenses to be usable by everyone, Wikimedia is committed to ensuring that the material remains public in the long term.

Wikimedia is a global movement whose mission is to bring free educational content to the world. Wikimedia is the collective name for the Wikimedia movement, revolving around a group of inter-related projects, including Wikipedia, Wikidata, Wikimedia Commons and others, which aim to use the collaborative power of the Internet, and the wiki concept, to create and share free knowledge of all kinds.

Wikipedia is a project to build free encyclopedias in all languages of the world. Virtually anyone with Internet access is free to contribute neutral, cited information.

Wikidata aims to create a free knowledge base about the world that can be read and edited by humans and machines alike. It provides data in all the languages of the Wikimedia projects, and allows for the central access to data in a similar vein as Wikimedia Commons does for multimedia files.

Wikimedia Commons aims to provide a central repository for free photographs, diagrams, maps, videos, animations, music, sounds, spoken texts, and other free media. It is a multilingual project with contributors speaking dozens of languages.

Wikisource is a multilingual project to archive a collection of free and open content texts. It is not only a superior format for storing classics, laws, and other free works as hypertext, but it also serves as a base for translating these texts. Wikisource has several editions in many individual languages.



1. Create a worldwide database of cultural heritage institutions


We bring together data on cultural heritage institutions on Wikidata, providing a free to use worldwide database of cultural heritage institutions and their collections which can be used in education, the digitization of cultural heritage, crisis situations, tourism and more. We will bring together existing datasets and work with partners to survey cultural organisations and other knowledge holders to fill gaps. This resource will increase availability of information and awareness of GLAM institutions globally.

  • Work with partners to collate existing databases of cultural organisations into a central list of databases, prioritising countries where cultural organisations are threatened.
  • Run a targeted campaign to collect information where databases do not exist. We will engage staff at both central and local organizations, as well as the public who want to provide information.
  • Upload the data on institutions and their collections to Wikidata, developing best practices for structuring diverse areas of cultural heritage information on one platform.

2. Expand our network and develop new relationships


We will build partnerships and relationships with GLAMs, experts, universities and others needed accomplish the project goals and facilitate sustainable relationships with local Wikimedia organisations.

  • Work with Wikimedia organisations and other partners to expand our network to include the cultural heritage organizations, universities, researchers and others needed to make the project successful.
  • Work with partners to understanding how Wikimedia projects can support digitization and sharing knowledge and what ways organisations and individuals want to use the data.
  • Facilitate long term partnerships between GLAM institutions and local Wikimedia chapters and user groups, local ownership and growth of projects beyond the length of this project.
  • Maintain communication and share knowledge and opportunities through Facebook groups, email, wiki pages, and physical and online meetings.

3. Support cultural heritage institutions to share their media content on Wikimedia


We will work with cultural heritage institutions to share their content on Wikimedia to help bring it to a worldwide audience. We will provide practical help to bring tens of thousands of media files to Wikimedia, providing visibility to cultural heritage institutions and their collections, regardless of their location, size or resources. These efforts provide the practical basis for case studies, which in turn make it easier for new GLAM institutions to use the Wikimedia projects in the future.

  • Provide methods, technical solutions and strategies to share content on Wikimedia projects, supporting at least three GLAM institutions in Sweden and other countries.
  • Focus on diverse content (such as maps, audio, 3D models and scanned documents) and subjects (e.g folk costumes, coins, originates, cultural and natural environments) and other things GLAM institutions struggles with when working with the Wikimedia movement (how to get metadata improved by volunteers back, how to handle inclusion of old historical content that is e.g. racist). We want to learn how better to support institutions through the case studies.

4. Encourage integration of the content into Wikimedia sites


We will encourage the Wikimedia community and others to integrate the content made available during this project into Wikipedia articles and other Wikimedia sites to bring it to a global audience. Additionally will encourage the creation of tools to explore the data to help people to explore it in new ways.

  • We will run hackathons and other events to experiment with new ways to explore the information including a worldwide map of cultural heritage institutions.
  • Encourage the integration of the data into Wikimedia projects including Wikipedia through the use of Wikidata generated infoboxes, graphs, maps and other visualisations.
  • We will organize events including workshops and edit-a-thons, both in Sweden and internationally, for volunteers interested in working with the content made available during the project.
  • We will conduct online activities on the Wikimedia projects to increase visibility and use of the material made available.

5. Building case studies and other supporting documentation


We will create documentation to support the understanding of and implementation of Open Access in cultural heritage. It will include case studies, best practice and practical guides that will build capacity in GLAM institutions and the worldwide network of Wikimedia chapters and user groups. Quality documentation will allow others to build upon our work and make even more cultural heritage information available online.

  • Case studies and our experiences will be compiled in a white paper, where concrete actions that improve the opportunities for organizing successful initiatives between GLAM institutions and the Wikimedia movement will be presented. It will help guide the Wikimedia Foundation's technical development work as well as the work of local Wikimedia associations in different countries.
  • Case studies will be built into modules to be adaptable to different situations, they will be written to benefit both GLAMs and Wikimedia organisations. We will separate the information by the type of GLAM institution, or with a specific types of material, themes or process.
  • We will primarily work with Swedish and Nordic GLAM institutions as well as other European and American GLAM institutions because of their previous digitisation work.
  • Create instructional material and missing documentation on Wikimedia projects to make future work easier and more successful. Better documented processes and different types of support materials increase the impact of the project by reducing thresholds for future GLAM collaborations, and identifiable pitfalls can be avoided.
  • Build awareness of the value of Open Access and free licenses with decision makers including politicians.
  • Create a kit for volunteers to arrange events that support the project to scaling up the work and ensuring long-term survival of the results.

6. Build awareness of the work done by the Wikimedia movement with the GLAM sector


We will build awareness of the work done by the Wikimedia movement with the GLAM sector through this project and other initiatives. We are doing this through presentations, social media campaigns, blogs and other activities. This will attract more participants and partners to the project, show the value of working with Wikimedia to share cultural heritage knowledge and inform potential users, including academics and other professionals that the resources are available.

  • Presentations or similar at least 10 relevant events focusing on cultural heritage, education, ICTs and international development. At least 800 experts will get to know the project and the cultural heritage data available through Wikimedia platforms.
  • Online, we will highlight the project through our website, blogs, various wikis, press releases and social media.
  • Presentations and other side events at Wikimania 2019 in Stockholm in cooperation with cultural heritage institutions in Stockholm.

How to be involved


If you are interested in any of these activities we would love to hear from you (please email john.andersson(_AT_)wikimedia.se)

  • Share your knowledge about datasets
  • Share content from your cultural organisation
  • Reuse the data  
  • Help us share information about the project
  • Photographing the GLAMs