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A third of Estonia’s cultural heritage to be available digitally in five years

12. March 2018 - 14:15
The digitalisation of the Estonian National Museum’s rug collection; Kristjan Raba; Head of the Exhibition House and Joel Aljes, the Gardener of Raadi, laying out a rug, ERM Fk 2936:369, Eesti Rahva Muuseum,
The digitalisation of the Estonian National Museum’s rug collection; Kristjan Raba; Head of the Exhibition House and Joel Aljes, the Gardener of Raadi, laying out a rug, ERM Fk 2936:369, Eesti Rahva Muuseum,

The Ministry of Culture has completed an action plan for the digitalisation of Estonia’s cultural heritage. The objective of the action plan is to make a third of the cultural heritage stored in our memory institutions available digitally by 2023, and to update the infrastructure for the storage of information in our memory institutions.

There are over 900 million objects significant for Estonian culture in the memory institutions managed by the state. Currently, only a tenth of them are digitalised. At the same time, digitalisation is one of the best, and sometimes the only way, to make cultural heritage easily available to many interested people, while also ensuring the preservation of the unique heritage objects.

Tarvi Sits, Undersecretary for Cultural Heritage at the Ministry of Culture, said that, above all, the digitalisation of heritage would create new opportunities and better preconditions for the development of new services and cultural phenomena. “Cultural heritage is one of the few, if not only, resources that is not depleting, but constantly growing. Therefore, it is important to make it easily available with the help of modern-day technology,” said Sits. The action plan is focused primarily on heritage from 1900 to 1940. The percentage of digital material in the memory institutions, which includes that already digitalised and that to be digitalised in the course of this project, will increase to 3% of documents, 32% of objects, 60% of films, 60% of photos, 55% of art and 28% of printed heritage. 

The preparation of the time-consuming action plan took more time than originally planned, but as a result, the completed action plan should meet the expectations of those who participated in the process. This is also proven by the fact that, thanks to the action plan, the volume of the projects to be financed almost tripled as compared to start of the project.

In addition, to the digitalisation projects, the action plan also includes the updating of infrastructure for heritage storage. Solutions for archiving the digital heritage and e-services will be created for the memory institutions, and the public data on approximately 1.2 million objects will be made machine-readable.

The total cost of the project is €9.16 million of which €8.28 million will be covered by investments from European Union Structural Funds.

The action plan was completed as a collaboration of the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication, and Ministry of Education and Research. A great contribution was also made by Estonian memory institutions, incl. the initiators – the Art Museum of Estonia, Estonian National Museum, National Library of Estonia, Estonian Film Database, and National Archives of Estonia – and other memory and cultural institutions.

The Ministry of Culture is the general coordinator for the implementation of the action plan. The subprojects will be carried out by the Estonian Literary Museum, Art Museum of Estonian Foundation, Estonian National Museum, Estonian Public Broadcasting, National Archives of Estonia and University of Tartu. The planned activities will be completed by 2023.

The action plan titled ‘Digitalisation of Cultural Heritage 2018–2023’ is available here.

More information

Ülle Talihärm

Adviser (Libraries), Ministry of Culture  

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