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Volunteers to put art online for Wikipedia

In June, volunteers will visit Dutch museums to take photographs of art objects. The photos will be published online with a creative commons (CC) license, which means that they can be freely used provided the source is acknowledged. In Amsterdam, the Tropenmuseum, the Jewish Historical Museum and the Netherlands Media Art Institute participate in Wiki Loves Art, which was preceded by similar initiatives in New York, London and Australia.

Close to ten thousand photos have already been published on the Flickr website. For online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, this is a way to obtain illustrations for articles. So far, mainly ethnic and classical art seems to have been photographed. In the Netherlands, museums with ethnic and craft objects participate, but also museums with media art and graphic design collections.

Museums that participate in the project must have art objects at their disposal of which the copyright has expired or is owned by the museum itself. In addition, they must allow volunteers to take photos of these objects.

For participating museums, it can be worthwile to go web 2.0, the organisers argue. They can reach new audiences, increase brand recognition and boost turnover. By now, eight museums in the Netherlands have joined. “We’re very happy with these entries, this is a good start. But we’re still looking for more museums that would like to participate”, an organisation spokesperson said.

On 1 May, a campaign will be launched to recruit volunteer photographers. During June, they can upload their photos with a CC license. On 1 September, the winner of a best photo award will be announced.

The Dutch project is run by Creative Commons Netherlands and Wikimedia Netherlands, in collaboration with the Amsterdam Museum Night Foundation and the Netherlands Institute for Heritage.

Image: Molded Tile, mid-19th century. Ceramic, underglaze. Brooklyn Museum, Hagop Kevorkian Fund. Photo Katie Chao

20 April 2009 |