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​Swedish digital project preserves cultural heritage in Syria and other places

Pressmeddelande   •   Jan 27, 2016 16:15 CET

Pieces of the world's cultural heritage are lost every day. To preserve and make it accessible is a constant battle against both time and the deliberate destruction of the kind that recently has occurred in, for instance, Syria.

With this in mind, Wikimedia Sverige (Sweden) now launches Connected Open Heritage (COH) – a large project with the aim to collect unique digital information about different cultural heritages around the world and make it easily accessible. The project is financed by the Swedish Postcode Lottery's Cultural Foundation.

The main aim of the project is to collect and make 100 000 pictures of cultural heritage accessible digitally under free licenses. Amongst these pictures is a treasure trove of 2 500 pictures of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra that will be published under a free license. As the city has been subjected to massive destruction over the past year, these pictures will give researchers, students and the general public a unique view of the city before the ruthless attacks carried out by ISIS.

- Our cultural heritage is constantly threatened by the ravages of time and lost in oblivion. Some of it is lost due to planned and systematic attacks by forces that want to erase the parts of history that do not fit into their own view of the world, says Anna Troberg, CEO of Wikimedia Sverige. I am proud that Wikimedia Sverige takes an active part in the digital defence of our shared cultural heritage.

Connected Open Heritage is run and coordinated by Wikimedia Sverige, but is a joint project between UNESCO, Cultural Heritage Without Borders and Wikimedia Italia (Italy). The work will be performed in close cooperation with museums, libraries, archives and authorities across at least ten different countries.

- We will mainly work with unique material that for the very first time will be connected and made accessible on Wikipedia through Wikimedia's platforms, says the project manager of Connected Open Heritage, John Andersson. The project is, however, not an exclusively digital affair. We will also produce a photo exhibition that will be on show in three countries.

Connected Open Heritage is financed with a 255 000 euro grant from the Swedish Postcode Lottery's Cultural Foundation.

- Without this initiative from Wikimedia Sverige we risk losing priceless cultural heritage in many different places, says Angelica Månsson-Gerde, general manager of the Swedish Postcode Lottery's Cultural Foundation. By joining technology with the cooperation of both professional actors and volunteers around the world, Wikimedia Sverige creates opportunities to not only preserve cultural heritage at risk, but to also make it accessible to both the general public and for research. We are proud to support that work.

Picture: Bernard Gagnon. License: CC-BY-SA. 

John Andersson
Project Manager, Connected Open Heritage
+46 73-396 51 89

Anna Troberg
CEO, Wikimedia Sverige
+46 72-967 29 48

Wikimedia Sverige works to make knowledge accessible and free for everyone and is the Swedish chapter of Wikimedia Foundation – a non-profit organisation supporting Wikipedia.