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Europeana enables people to explore the digital resources of Europes museums, libraries, archives and audio-visual collections. It promotes discovery and networking opportunities in a multilingual space where users can engage, share in and be inspired by the rich diversity of Europes cultural and scientific heritage. On this blog you will find short updates on Europeana content, special events and things we are working on.
Updated: 1 hour 18 min ago

2014: Top 20 Searches on Europeana

17 December 2014 - 4:14pm

So this year is almost over and now we’re ready to ask – what were you all looking for on Europeana this year? Millions of you from the four the corners of the globe visited in 2014 to search, browse and share over 36 million historical records from over 2,300 of Europe’s memory institutions… but what were the trends of 2014 and what were you all looking for? We’ve compiled a list of the 20 most popular search queries. Below some hints of what the searches were related to. Scroll down for the full list!

There were over 2,1 million unique searches performed on in 2014. Below the full list of the 20 most popular search queries:
1. Vincent van Gogh (new entry)
2. Mucha (new entry)
3. Hieronymus Bosch (new entry)
4. Edvard Munch (new entry)
5. Photography (new entry)
6. Београд (Belgrade) (new entry)
7. Rembrandt (new entry)
8. Mode Longchamp (new entry)
9. Picasso (#11 in 2013)
10. Map (new entry)
11. Park (new entry)
12. Paris (#9 in 2013)
13. Mona Lisa (#16 in 2013)
14. 1868 boltz (new entry)
15. Spain (#12 in 2013)
16. Druck (new entry)
17. Édouard Charton (new entry)
18. Tretyakov Gallery (new entry)
19. Volendam (new entry)
20. Japan (#4 in 2013)

Categories: Europeana

Europeana Fashion has a New Look

17 December 2014 - 10:11am

By Gabrielle de Pooter, Communication Advisor Online Media Europeana Fashion Project -

Europeana Fashion has a new look! We are still presenting the fashion-and costume collections from European museums and institutions (over 540.000 items by now!), but you can now explore the collections in a completely new way. Let us tell fill you in on what is new.


The first new feature is the theme section on top. You can discover items from the collections curated around a specific topic, such as prints or fashion illustration. The themes will be regularly refreshed, but you can still browse all previous themes via the theme menu on top. Immediately below the theme section, you can browse even more items gathered around more generic topics, such as sketches or couture.

The Europeana Fashion Tumblr is also part of the new website. For nearly two years, museums and brands around Europe have used our Tumblr as a platform to showcase content that has never been published online before. You can now see the latest posts on Tumblr directly on the website.

Searching the collections in Europeana Fashion has also been altered. Items are now presented in a visual way, similar to Pinterest or Tumblr, letting your browse items more intuitively. However, when hovering over an image you can see a description of the item. You can still rely on the trustwhorthy information provided by the museum or institution hosting the item.

At Europeana Fashion, we continue to make improvements to make discovering Europe’s best fashion-and costume collections an even better experience every time you visit. Do let us know your thoughts via or #eurfashion.

Categories: Europeana

New Exhibition: 1514. Book. 2014

10 December 2014 - 2:47pm

In 2014, it was 500 years ago that the first book was printed. To commemorate this significant period in time, we created a virtual exhibition together with the National Library of Latvia. The printed book changed the world by first changing its readers. During the period 500 years ago, the nature of the book was undergoing important changes. With the development of printing technology, books became cheaper, more convenient to read and accessible to a wider audience; books became the messengers of religious and social change.

The distant year 1514 vividly characterises the age of great change: the end of the Renaissance and the blossoming of humanism, culminating in the Reformation. This virtual exhibition provides you an opportunity to examine the books published in that particular year across Europe, revealing the cultural richness and diversity of the age.

Explore the books in our English or Latvian exhibition. Below we show a sneak peek of what you can expect!

Categories: Europeana

Dancing on ice in an attic

4 December 2014 - 2:11pm

(A version of this blog was first published on Europeana Sounds)

It’s nearly time to bring out the skates. There’s a promising nip in the air, and although we have a long way to go before the canals and lakes are frozen over, you can always practice your moves at an ice rink.

Image credit: Gemeentearchief Weert, CC-BY SA

To inspire you, we found this curious video made in 1943 of a tiny ice rink in a Rotterdam attic, where people gathered to bust a move on ice.

IJspret op zolder, door Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, CC BY SA.

And here are two interesting sound clips that really give you a sense of the atmosphere at an ice rink – the sound of skates gliding over ice and the buzz at an ice rink. Both are from the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, and CC BY SA

The sound of a skater on ice

Atmospheric sounds from an ice rink

Categories: Europeana

Introducing the Tallinn Collector

21 November 2014 - 5:07pm

The Tallinn Collector is a website that showcases Soviet-era tourism guides and brochures to the Estonian capital, Tallinn. It gives its readers a glimpse of what life was like in the 70’s and 80’s, and a taste of Soviet propaganda. It is a great example of how cultural objects from another era can be preserved, re-used and shared with a wider audience. Here, we talk to Tomas Alexandersson, the Swede behind the project.

Tomas Alexandersson

1. How did your fascination with Soviet era tourist guides of Tallinn begin?

It started in Tallinn back in 2005, when I lived there. As a hobby, I started to collect old travel guide books. I like to look at old pictures inside the travel guides to see what Tallinn used to look like and compare the locations to what they currently look like. While browsing through images, I noticed how interesting the actual tourist information was. Everything from history to what to do in the Soviet Union (and more importantly, what not do) and bits of propaganda. These things made me very interested in travel guides as historical material and is the reason behind The Tallinn Collector.

2. How do you source your material? And what are the quotes that go along with the images about?

Basically, I’m collecting the material for own interest and use. It’s just a hobby – no commercial use really. What I show on The Tallinn Collector is just snapshots of how exciting the material is. Quotes that go along with the images are what appears with the image.

3. Do you think that being Swedish gives your collection a Western European interpretation of Estonian history?

I hope not. I don’t put my own opinion when showing pieces of the material on The Tallinn Collector. I hope visitors understand this. I also want people to see, think and analyse the posts on their own. So basically I don’t really put any own values in the material.

4. I would imagine that your Soviet era memorabilia may raise a few hackles in Tallinn. Is this true? And how do you circumvent political sensitivity?

People have been very positive about the project. I think (hope) they understand my aim. With The Tallinn Collector, I’m not really trying to tell people what to think or how to interpret the material. I’m very aware of the different political opinions and experiences from Soviet era. It’s rather just about showing how the travel guides, content and images actually looked and provide basis for the discussions about what it was like through the filters of the Soviet propaganda machine. In any case, I’d like to encourage people to come up with their own analysis and opinions about all this.

5. What would you pick as the key events of the era that your collection represents (eg USSR’s rise and fall, independence)? And then, could you please pick one item for each event that illustrates this, and explain how it does this?

Good question! I think there are lots of different key events. One great one is the overall tourism development of facilities and range. They are clearly shown in the travel guidebooks. For example, if you compare the travel guidebooks by year, you can always read and follow the development with new hotels, attractions and events. They are always proudly presented and the words ’ new’ , ’modern’ or ’future’ are side written. Another key event is of course Tallinn being part of the Moscow Olympic Games 1980. You can really tell this was a proud happening – Tallinn being part of an international event. And during the event, Tallinn got new hotels (like Olümpia), new tourist attractions and so on. The opening of legendary tourist hotel Viru in 1972 is also very proudly talked about in the tourist guidebook. Also the events at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds, as well as the urban expansion of the city – from Medieval Old Town to modern suburbs.

6. Do you know if people have used these guides to do a nostalgia tour of Tallinn? Do you have pictures comparing the then and now?

I know there are so called ’Soviet nostalgia tours’ in Tallinn. But I’m not really sure if they use any of the older tourist material for inspiration. The Tallinn Collector is for sure one of a kind – only focusing on retro Tallinn tourist material online. Right now, I do not have any then-and-now content. But I’m actually working on it. I hope I will make it happen.

7. If someone invented a time machine, where would you go in Tallinn based on your content? The quirkiest, most interesting place you have come across? And why?

I’m still very fascinated about the Viru hotel and its ’tourism power’ back in the day. It was the first international hotel in Tallinn and the place to be for tourists, I think it would have been amazing to stay there a night or two. I heard about amazing parties there and variety shows in the 80s. I would then also sneak inside the so called Tallinn Service House (Teenindusmaja) close to the hotel – a huge complex full of services such as shopping, hairdressers, photo studios and much more. Very exciting way of putting all the services under one roof and one place in the city.

Categories: Europeana

Claude Monet: Rejecting the Traditional Approach

14 November 2014 - 12:03pm

Today in 1840, one of the founders of the Impressionism movement was born on the fifth floor of 45 rue Laffitte, in the ninth arrondissement of Paris. Oscar-Claude Monet started this movement along with his friends Renoir, Sisley and Bazille. The famous French painter rejected the traditional approach to landscape painting, instead of copying old masters, he observed variations of color and light caused by the daily or seasonal changes.

Below we’re highlighting some historical pictures of Monet painting in his atelier in 1926, and some of his colourful works. Explore more of his work through Europeana.

All photographs are from the French National Library, Public Domain. The paintings are from the Rijksmuseum (public domain) and Szépművészeti Múzeum (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Categories: Europeana

Rembrandt: the Art of Self Portraits

10 November 2014 - 3:27pm

No artist has left a loftier or more penetrating personal testament than Rembrandt van Rijn. The Dutch master painted more self portraits than any other artist of the 17th century. In more than 90 portraits of himself that date from the outset of his career in the 1620s to the year of his death in 1669, he created an autobiography in art.

Below we have gathered some of his impressive self-portraits. Explore even more portraits of himself through Europeana.

All images are from the Rijksmuseum, Public Domain.

Categories: Europeana

WW1: A Day at the Hospital

4 November 2014 - 1:22pm

After the First World War started, the flow of casualties soon overwhelmed the existing medical facilities. Large numbers of public and private buildings (often large houses) were turned over for use as small hospitals, most of which operated as annexes to nearby larger hospitals. Some hospitals were developed as, or became specialist units. Categories of specialism included mental hospitals, units for limbless men, neurological units, orthopaedic units, cardiac units, typhoid units and venereal disease. in Match 1915, convalescent hospitals were formed, these establishments helped soldiers recover under military control.

Below we’re highlighting some photographs that were taken in hospitals during WW1. Explore Europeana 1914-1918 for even more of these historical photographs.

Images: Austrian National Library (Public Domain), Wellcome Library (CC-BY) and The French National Library (Public Domain) via The Europeana LibraryEuropeana 1914-1918.

Categories: Europeana

A passion for design? Then this one is for you

3 November 2014 - 2:23pm

By Milena Popova

Process of co-creation for a design pilot at the workshop in Helsinki

Do you have a passion for design? Are you an artist, developer, designer or entrepreneur?
Join Europeana Creative’s final challenge! We want you to create products and applications that re-use Europeana content relating to the theme of Design.

We welcome a wide range of submissions for this competition – from fabric prints using museum pictures to 3D print designs based on antiques to apps remixing old paintings.
Let your inspiration run free!

You can submit your ideas till 15 January 2015 at

Find out more on the entry criteria, content and tech help, and prizes here.

Categories: Europeana

The Moving Past: World Day for Audiovisual Heritage

27 October 2014 - 1:27pm

It’s World Day for Audiovisual Heritage and what better to celebrate with some moving images that can be found via Europeana. Celebrations for this dat take place every year on October 27. This day was chosen by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) in 2005, to raise awareness of the significance and importance of preservation for recorded sound and audiovisual documents.

To mark this day we have created some quirky GIFs, highlighting a selection of videos from Europe’s audiovisual archives. Take a moment to explore our Pinterest board ‘The Moving Past‘, or head over to Europeana and explore more of the audiovisual items that have been made available there.

All items are from Open Beelden and the Dutch Institute for Sound and Vision, explore their collections through Europeana.

Categories: Europeana

Parisian Haute Couture in the Early 1900s

22 October 2014 - 11:28am

What’s a better place to show of your new outfit than the popular horse racing tracks in a chic Westen neighbourhood of Paris. The popularity of Longchamp, where races were run for the first time in 1857, signalled a general revival in French horse racing, making it the perfect place for designers and fashion lovers to show their new outfit.

The early 1900s mark the full flowering of Parisian haute couture as the arbiter of styles and silhouettes for women of all classes. Designers would send fashion models or mannequins to the Longchamp races, wearing the latest styles. During the event fashion photographs were taken to identify the creators of individual gowns.

Below we have gathered some of these fashion photographs. Explore all photographs of the Grand Prix in Longchamps through Europeana.

All images are in the public domain, French National Library via The European Library.

Categories: Europeana

Autumn Inspired Art

20 October 2014 - 11:37am

The second month of Autumn, it’s starting to get cold and wet. Trees loose their green colour and eventually let go of their leaves. Autumn is a season people love or loathe. Many painters have been inspired by this season, a season that starts filled with a wide range of warm colours and gradually introduces us to the cold and grey winter.

We searched Europeana for some beautiful artworks inspired by Autumn, and highlighted them below. Interested in more Autumn related works? Explore Europeana.

Images: Teylers Museummuseum-digitalCentral Library of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, RijksmuseumStadtgeschichtliches Museum LeipzigThe Wellcome LibraryBibliothèque municipale de Lyon

Categories: Europeana

‘Take some more tea’

8 October 2014 - 4:24pm

It is finally beginning to look and feel a lot like autumn outside. Perfect weather to curl up with a book and a cup of tea.
This week, we celebrate the whimsy of tea time. Two orangutans sipping delicately from their teacups, a couple with fantastical headgear, Dr Duncan’s caution against hot liquors… such as tea.
As the March Hare said to Alice, ‘Take some more tea’.

All images are CC BY from the Wellcome Library

Categories: Europeana

Help the National Library of France acquire a national treasure

3 October 2014 - 4:43pm

 By Claire Bertrand

BnF / Avec l’aimable autorisation de Dr. J. Günther Rare Books, Bâle

The French National Library has launched a public appeal for the acquisition of a royal manuscript of King François I of France,Description des Douze Césars avec leurs figures (Tours, c. 1520).

This exceptional manuscript, classified as a national treasure, was illustrated by Jean Bourdichon for King François I of France. The manuscript, which is one of three original copies, is the most beautiful and will be the first to enter the French national collections.

These manuscripts were probably made to be used as diplomatic gifts for King Henry VIII of England and Charles Quint.
The public appeal is open to all who wish to help the French National Library to enrich its collections. Once acquired, the manuscript will be digitised and made available on our digital library, Gallica, for all to admire.

If you wish to participate as an international donor, you may :
- make a donation directly online. It is fast and secure.

Write to us :
Bibliothèque nationale de France
Délégation au mécénat
Quai François Mauriac
75706 Paris cedex 13

Contact us at or +33 (0)1 53 79 48 51


Categories: Europeana

Contraceptives, buttons and much more

30 September 2014 - 3:23pm

Written by – Ingeborg Verheul, Collection Manager – Library and Archive Atria

Since a few years and to a growing extend, objects form an additional source for historical research. Digitisation makes the material easily accessible for research. The objects collection of Atria consists of over 1700 objects that are related with the Dutch and international women’s movements and women’s organisations. A number of objects come from personal archives of women who played an important role in the emancipation of women and/or the suffragette movement in The Netherlands and abroad. A nice example are the fan or the writing folder of Aletta Jacobs (1854-1929), the first female medical doctor and leading suffragette, who played an important role in the achievement of voting rights for women in The Netherlands from 1900 until 1919.

In the collection one finds loads of obvious objects, typical heritage material of many social movements everywhere: banners, pins, ribbons, buttons, bags, t-shirts etcetera. Quite remarkable are the amount of contraceptives, portraits, games and stamps. Really interesting are the unique pieces that commemorate historical events from the (Dutch) emancipation movement, such as for example the National Exhibition of Women’s Labour in 1989, the exhibition ‘Woman 1813-1913’ or the protest-actions from Dolle Mina (Mad Mina) in the seventies of the last century.

Explore the collection of Atria through Europeana.

All images: Atria, CCO.

Categories: Europeana

Introducing #OpenCollections

23 September 2014 - 12:50pm

For those of you who are dedicated followers of the Europeana Facebook and Twitter accounts,  you have probably already seen #OpenCollections in your newsfeed in the last couple of weeks. #OpenCollections highlights some of the most interesting and high quality collections from around Europe.


Harper’s nov’b'r by Edward Penfield, 1866-1925. Part of the collection of the Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon. Public Domain


So why do we call them open collections and not just ‘beautiful collections’? Open Collections can be re-used without restrictions, and we believe that culture should be shared with minimum restriction. Works that are open because either copyright has expired, does not exist or permission has been given to freely copy, modify, remix and print the material – subject, at most, to requirements that preserve provenance and openness.

This is important for us to highlight because a lot of cultural objects from the previous century are still protected by copyright. This means that you as a user can’t just make copies or modify the work without consulting with the rights holders. A work that can be considered ‘open’ does not have these restrictions.

 Magasin för konst, nyheter och moder 1835. Part of the collection of the Stiftelsen Nordiska museet. Public Domain

Highlighting great, re-usable material

By highlighting the open collections, it not only becomes easier for you to find some of the best material available in Europe, but we also like to support the great work being done by the museums, libraries and archives that make these collections available to you. In this way, we want to bring European culture closer to a worldwide audience. And the good part is, you can share it as well! This is the material you can share freely via social media or use in your own remixes, websites, apps, educational material, and whatever else you can think of.

To keep track of the collections, follow the #OpenCollections hashtag on Twitter, or like us on Facebook.

 Het Ganzenbord by Daan Hoekstra, 1920. Part of the collection of the Amsterdam Museum. CC-BY.

How to find more great open collections?

For more interesting open collections, take a look on Europeana Labs, where we present hand-picked collections that can be re-used without any restrictions. When browsing through the Europeana repository, it is quite easy to check if a collection or object is open and can therefore be reused. Just go to the ‘Can I use it’ box and tick ‘Yes, with attribution’. This will filter out the cultural objects that either have fallen into the Public Domain, or are licensed with one of the open Creative Commons license.

Categories: Europeana

Freedom Express: Final Leg – Germany

16 September 2014 - 4:37pm

The Freedom Express ended its historic journey in Germany over the weekend, concluding an intensive study trip for a group of 20 young Europeans. The participants travelled through six countries in Eastern and Central Europe to discover traces of the different revolutions that swept across the region in 1989. In Germany, the participants set out to explore their final stop, Berlin, the city that was once divided into East and West. With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Germany and Berlin were reunited in dramatic fashion, a historic occasion that is ingrained in the memories of many Europeans today. The face of Berlin has greatly changed since reunification. The city is a architectural frenzy that has reinvented itself countless times in the past 25 years. The cultural vibrancy of the 1920s has returned with a vengeance, transforming Berlin from a political curiosity to a vital presence among European capitals today.

Reflections with Monika Grütters

Monika Grütters, State Minister for Culture and Media, takes the time to sit down with the participants of the Freedom Express in Berlin. Image: European Network Remembrance and Solidarity.

After arriving in the city, the group quickly headed to the Contemporary History Midsummers Night, an annual commemoration at the Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship. There the participants listened to a panel debate which featured Gerd Koenen, German journalist and independent historian, together with Karel Schwarzenberg, former Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs. While there, the group also had the opportunity to sit down with Monika Grütters, State Minister for Culture and Media. Minister Grütters was interested to see what the participants had learnt so far and what expectations they have for their visit in Berlin. The minister also listened to the group as they discussed European identity and their reflections on the European Union today.

East Side Gallery & Europeana 1989 Collection Day

Kani Alavi stands near his artwork and talks with the participants of the Freedom Express at the East Side Gallery in Berlin. Images: Europeana (CC-BY-SA)

On their second day in Berlin, the participants had a guided tour of the East Side Gallery, the longest open air gallery in the world with 1,316 meters of the former Berlin Wall painted by artists from around the world. In addition, for over 20 years, the East Side Gallery has been the only authentic monument of the reunification.

The participants met with the director of the gallery, Kani Alavi, an German-Iranian artist who came to Berlin 1980. Alavi lived on the West side of the city near the border at checkpoint Charlie, everyday he saw people attempt to cross the border and used the emotions on their faces as inspiration for ‘It happened in November’, a section of the Berlin Wall that he painted in 1990 and which is now on display at the East Side gallery.

Group from the Freedom Express talk with Philipp Lengsfeld at the Europeana 1989 Collection Day in Berlin. Images: Europeana (CC-BY-SA)

Shortly after visiting the East Side Gallery a number of the participants went to the Deutsche Kinemathek, where Europeana 1989 was hosting a public collection day. The group had the unique opportunity to meet members of the general public who wanted to share their stories from 1989. The participants also had the chance to get involved in the process of digitisation. A lot of unique historical material was contributed: from self-made demonstration banners to the original founding charter of the Social Democrats in East Germany. The collection day was also visited by the first freely elected foreign minister of the GDR, Markus Meckel together with Philipp Lengsfeld, a member of parliament.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled

The trip may be over, but you can still follow the outcomes and reflections of the journey from each of the participants via their collaborative blog. Also, the entire journey was filmed by a documentary crew who followed the participants on their quest to discover the traces of 1989. The Freedom Express documentary is due to be premiered in Warsaw in February 2015.

In the meantime, ARTE TV will be screening a short programme on 27 September. This short documentary follows the journey and profiles two of the participants who share their experiences during the trip. As a representative of Europeana, I was also a participant of the study trip and one of those selected for the ARTE TV documentary; so I invite you to tune in on 27 September to hear me share some of my thoughts during the trip.

Keep your eyes peeled!

Categories: Europeana

Freedom Express: Leg 3 – Slovakia & Czech Republic

12 September 2014 - 2:46pm

The Freedom Express is a journey that follows 20 young Europeans as they discover the traces of 1989, an extraordinary year that transformed Europe. Twenty-five years on from the collapse of Communism in Europe, the participants of the study trip are visiting the key places of those revolutions and meeting the people that were involved. On the third leg of the trip, the group was introduced to the Velvet Revolution, which in 1989 quickly swept across Czechoslovakia, overthrowing the isolated and rigid communist regime in an extraordinarily short span of time.

Border Crossings

After spending some time on the Austrian-Hungarian border and meeting the organisers of the Pan-European Picnic, the Freedom Express got back on the road and headed towards Bratislava. Shortly after entering Slovakia, the group was taken into a remote area where they went back in time: Through a specially organised reconstruction, the participants had a taste of what it was like to cross the Czechoslovakia border in the 1980s.

Participants experiencing what it was like to cross the Czechoslovakia border in the 1980s. Images: Europeana (CC-BY-SA)

After crossing the border, the group met with Ján Lőrincz, a freelance photographer who through hundreds of photographs captured the dramatic scenes on the streets of Bratislava during the Velvet Revolution. Europeana recorded his strongest memory for 89 Voices, where he recalls; ´It was the feeling of the freedom, because when you live so close to the border and you go up to the hill, you know that the other world is just a stone’s throw away, and yet it’s so far, you can’t do anything about it…´.

Finishing off their time in Slovakia, the participants sat down with three of Slovakia’s most prominent artists of the 20th century: Rudolf Sikora, Jozef Jankovič and Miroslav Cipár. Together they discussed the impact of the communist regime on their work and how they adapted to their newly found freedom after 1989.

Revolutionary Czech Rock

After Bratislava, the participants arrived in Prague  where they met with Czech rock band, Plastic People of the Universe. In the 1970s and 80s the Plastic People of the Universe were the leading band in Czechoslovakia. This avant-garde group went against the grain of the communist regime, and due to its non-conformism often suffered serious problems, such as arrests. The group continues to perform even after the death of the founder, main composer and bass player, Milan ‘Mejla’ Hlavsa.

The next day the group was invited to the German Embassy to attend an event that commemorated the escape of Germans from the GDR in September 1989. The event centred around a discussion with Czech artist, David Černý, together with Jan Bubenik, who was student involved in the Velvet Revolution, and prominent Czech politician Alexandr Vondra. The palace, where the embassy is situated, became the resort of numerous East German refugees who had reached Prague, climbed over the fence and camped out on the grounds. On the evening of 30 September, Foreign Minister Hans- Dietrich Genscher stepped out on the balcony to announce an agreement about the refugees’ voyage to West Germany.

Next stop, Berlin…

Categories: Europeana

Freedom Express: Leg 2 – Hungary & Romania

8 September 2014 - 5:19pm

A group of 20 young Europeans continue their journey through Eastern and Central Europe to trace the events of 1989, and Europeana has joined them. The Freedom Express study trip most recently stopped in Hungary and Romania, where the participants learnt about the revolutions of each country, and how the events in Hungary sparked the bloody revolutions in neighbouring Romania.

Through this trip, the participants have been lucky enough to meet the protagonists from each revolution and gain first-hand insight on these historical events. The group has also been encouraged via their collaborative blog to discover and share their meaning of freedom, and discuss the impact of the events of 1989 on Europe today, 25 years on.

Hungarian Parliament 

Participants of the Freedom Express engage in discussions with members of the Hungarian Parliament. Images: Paweł Karnowski, European Network of Remembrance and Solidarity.

Hungary was the second satellite state of the Eastern Bloc after Poland to switch to a non- communist government. Participants spent a number of days in Budapest and Sopron. While in Budapest, the group was invited to the Hungarian Parliament to discuss the political changes in Hungary in 1989. The group had many questions for László Kövér, Hungarian politician and the current Speaker of the National Assembly. The meeting quickly turned into a debate regarding current international affairs, and media from around Europe reported on this debate and the reaction of the hosts, forcing László Kövér to publicly apologise to the Freedom Express participants for his response to the questioning.

The Pan-European Picnic

Participants explore the location of the Pan-European Picnic on the border of Austria-Hungary. Images: Europeana (CC-BY-SA)

In Sopron, the group visited the location of the Pan-European Picnic and talked to the organisers of the event. The peaceful demonstration was held on the Austrian-Hungarian border on 19 August 1989, an important event during the Revolutions of 1989 that led to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the reunification of Germany. In the scenic setting, participants stood between Austria and Hungary; only the symbolic barbed-wire fence and monuments serve as a reminder of what was imposed previously.

After Hungary, the group boarded the Freedom Express again and progressed to Romania where they visited the Museum of Revolution and met a number of witnesses to the Romanian revolution in December 1989. The participants also visited the city’s art museum where they were introduced to Romanian art. They explored the impact that the communist regime had on the work of artists during the 20th century

A story from Romania

While in Romania, Europeana was able to record their first story from that country for 89 Voices, an oral history project that aims to preserve 89 first-hand accounts of events in 1989. In the story, Brindusa Armanca describes the memory of how her family got caught up in the Romanian revolution in Timisoara. However, at the end of the recording she shares her most emotional memory, when she bore witness to the death of a woman on the streets during the protests. She recalls; ‘When I worked as a journalist, I researched who she was, and now I know. I went to the cemetery and put a flower on her grave. Even if only one person had died in the revolution, somebody has to be punished for that death.’

Next stop, Bratislava…

Categories: Europeana

The Freedom Express has Departed: Leg 1 – Poland

3 September 2014 - 5:34pm

On the morning of 30 August, the Freedom Express started its journey through Eastern and Central Europe from Gdansk, Poland. The touring study trip is taking twenty young Europeans on a journey to trace the historical events of 1989, a year that transformed Europe. Twenty-five years on from those spectacular events that triggered the collapse of communism in Europe, the organisers of the campaign are raising questions about that watershed. They are showing young people what the world was like on both sides of the Iron Curtain, and they are asking a new generation of Europeans what in their opinion has survived of the spirit of solidarity from 1989.

Participants taking part in the Europeana 1989 workshop in Gdansk. Neil Bates, Europeana (CC-BY-SA)

As you might already know, we have been actively engaged with the preservation of memories from that time period through our Europeana 1989 project, which was launched in Warsaw last year. So far, thousands of stories from people who lived through the time have been added to the website, both via online submissions and through collection days that have been held in a number of cities across Eastern and Central Europe. Now, we are very excited to have boarded the Freedom Express. At Europeana, we love taking new approaches to cultural history, and we understand that our collective history is much more than our books and official records. It is the experiences of real people that help to offer new perspectives and understanding, especially for new generations. So commemorating landmark periods in our history such as 1989 through innovative approaches such as Europeana 1989 and the Freedom Express is very  important, particularly for young people today.

Europeana on the Freedom Express

So far, the bus has passed through Gdansk and Warsaw in Poland. Participants had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet the living protagonists of 1989 and talk with them directly. These are the people that not only shaped the time, but had a direct impact on the outcomes. Other highlights have included attending the official opening of the European Solidarity Centre, a speech on solidarity from the President of Poland, a tour of the Gdansk shipyards by a former worker and union activist, a Q&A session with the Culture Minister of Poland, attending Westerplatte at 4:47 to mark the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of WWII, and an engaging re-enactment of life under martial law in Poland.

Video piece of Westerplatte commemorations, by Anna Kasperska, one of the study trip participants.

Europeana hosted its own workshop for participants to learn more about Europeana 1989. The 1-hour workshop introduced the group to the project and highlighted some of the fascinating stories that have been preserved as a result of it. A collection day for Europeana 1989 will be held while the group is in Berlin, where they are all invited to take part. They will get the chance to meet members of the general public that bring along their stories. Participants will also have the opportunity to get involved in the process of digitisation. If you are in Berlin yourself, please do come along with your stories and memorabilia from 1989. More information can be found on the Europeana 1989 website.

Participants get a taste of  life under martial law in Poland. Photograph by Paweł Radzikowski, European Network of Remembrance and Solidarity

You can get on board the Freedom Express virtually by following a collaborative blog that has been set up to document the journey through the eyes of the participants.  As Europeana has a seat on the Freedom Express, you can expect updates here on our own blog and new stories on 89 Voices. The Europeana 1989 Facebook and Twitter accounts will also be posting updates from the journey. So, plenty to watch out for.

 Next Stop, Budapest…

Categories: Europeana