On monday 4th of november we presented EuropeanaPhotography at the National Museum of Finland in Helsinki, on invitation by Elina Heikka, director of the Finnish Museum of Photography and curator Anni Wallenius.
We were greeted by enthusiastic colleagues with a keen interest in photographic heritage. Although some of the presentations were in Finnish, this didn’t stop us from being impressed by some strong initiatives, such as www.finna.fi and www.kuvakokoelmat.fi, that open up Finnish heritage to the wider community.
Our presentation, jointly with Sofie Taes, was well received, there was special interest for our multilingual thesaurus on early photography – in twelve languages: Bulgarian, Catalan, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Lithuanian, Polish, Slovak, Spanish – soon Ukrainian and Chinese will follow. The vocabulary is published in skosified form at http://bib.arts.kuleuven.be/photoVocabulary/. Sofie’s talk about the MINT tool (which adds the multilingual vocabulary and maps the data between the proprietary formats from the content providers to the LIDO intermediate scheme and from LIDO To EDM) were followed with great interest.
On the kind invitation of Head of Department Vesa Hongisto and Ismo Malinen, I was able to visit the premises of the Finnish National Board of Antiquities (MuseoVirasto) , a state-of-the art archive.
An absolute highlight of the day was the opening of the magnificent exhibition on surreal illusionism in belle epoque postcard art at the Finnish Museum of Photography. The possibility to print family photos on postcards quickly led to a DIY culture of fantasy, often surrealistic collages, strongly reminding what is happening on Flickr or YouTube today.
Besides the very captivating lectures on initiatives such as Finna.fi and Kuvakokoelmat.fi, Anna Boman from the Swedish National Heritage Board gave a much appreciated lecture on what can be achieved using Flickr to engage the public with collections.
These examples capture perfectly how photography as a technique enables us to engage a culturalized world where our aspirations, dreams and fantasies define the reality as we experience it.
And although it was a rainy day, the city of Helsinki with its huge shopping malls quickly captured us as a metropolitan center that should be on everyone’s trip wish list!
One of the ambitions of EuropeanaPhotography is to tell a more comprehensive, inclusive story about Europe. Connecting to the rich heritage of Finland can only bring us closer to this goal. That such stare-the-art digitization and automation efforts are underway encourages us to strengthen this collaboration. We sure hope to add Finnish to the EuropeanaPhotography multilingual vocabulary soon!