Critical issues presentations/How You and the Rest of the Wikimedia Movement Can Help Preserve the World’s Cultural Heritage – or How to Beat the Deadline

From Wikimania 2016 • Esino Lario, Italy
Slides from presentation. Video available at Youtube
Submission no. 118
Title of the submission

How You and the Rest of the Wikimedia Movement Can Help Preserve the World’s Cultural Heritage – or How to Beat the Deadline

Author of the submission
Country of origin

Sweden; Sweden; Sweden


Outreach, Projects

  • Wikidata
  • GLAM
  • Wiki Loves Monuments
  • Cultural heritage

“The greatest threat towards the cultural heritage is lack of knowledge and disinterest. The best way to protect the cultural heritage is therefore knowledge and information that is easy to find and free” — Lars Amréus, Director-General of the National Heritage Board of Sweden

Every year the world see the destruction of huge amount of important cultural heritage. The recent destruction of Palmyra in Syria put this in the spotlight, but it is also happening in a number of other different less extreme ways all over the world. This talk addresses what the international Wikimedia Movement can do to help.

The talk will attempt to give a brief overview of what has been done historically, point to some of the coolest initiatives that are currently going on, what the challenges and opportunities are and what we believe the future might hold. This talk is for anyone that would like to get an overview and to learn more about how they can help.

The Wikimedia movement has an incredible track record concerning cultural heritage data in cooperation with different organizations. Thousands of articles on Wikipedia are covering cultural heritage and give a context to the cultural heritage that is around you. Through this hard work Wikipedia has over the years become a central source of cultural heritage information for hundreds of millions of people.

Furthermore, the Wikimedia movement has gathered data about the cultural heritage in more than 50 countries. An amazing amount of information has been gathered with the specific aim of supplying the photo contest Wiki Loves Monuments (WLM) with lists of objects to photograph. The work started long before the Wikidata platform was launched but the information is now planned to be exported to Wikidata. Through the contest a million images of cultural heritage sites have been uploaded to Wikimedia Commons and are now available for use to improve the articles on Wikipedia.

There has also been plenty of collaboration around the collections at GLAM institutions all around the world with massive amounts of historical documentation added to the Wikimedia projects. This type of material can enhance the understanding of cultural heritage and complements newly created media and information for a deeper and more comprehensive picture.

However, as much as we have achieved most of the work is still ahead of us and together we should think about what we can do together to move forward even faster. There are a number of interesting initiatives that we will cover in this presentation. One major 300,000 USD project is building and continuing the work done the last years and is aiming to connect more information than ever before and make it easier to use. From the beginning of 2016 Wikimedia Sverige is working together with UNESCO, Wikimedia Italia and Cultural Heritage Without Borders (CHWB) to include the WLM database on Wikidata, make the data easier to use, add information from ten new countries where cultural heritage is in danger, upload 100,000 historical media files on Wikimedia Commons and connect them to the data, and support volunteers to contextualize the information on Wikipedia and organize a photo exhibition.


As a compliment to the presentation about the project to migrate the WLM database to Wikidata we request to host a workshop where WLM organizers, database managers and GLAM interested people can get together. The intention of the workshop is to talk about how to make sure nothing is forgotten, that all existing tools will continue to work and development of new tools relevant to both WLM and the broader highlighting of the cultural heritage.

Page on Meta
Connected Open Heritage


Interested attendees and comments

Interested attendees: