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Headlines Published on 30 January 2007

Title European SME project opens art collections online

What’s one way for a museum to raise its profile and expose its collection? The answer, for several Baltic museums, was to digitise their artefacts and put them online. This is a growing trend in the 21st century, which has been simplified thanks to the EUREKA project ONLINE CATALOGUE; it has developed a cost-effective and easily configurable database system, simplifying access to almost any type of museum collection. The database is designed to be an open architecture system that will be marketed to museums throughout Europe (and beyond), expanding research possibilities for experts across the globe.

The online database aims to include collections from all Baltic museums including The Riga War Museum. © Matt+
The online database aims to include collections from all Baltic museums including The Riga War Museum.
The online art catalogue was first designed with the aim of helping museums in the Baltic States to share best practice procedures for their archiving systems. Despite a rich common heritage and similar Soviet-era experiences, the Baltic collections lacked a collective documentation system that would facilitate a single database. This catalogue was developed to provide a user-friendly tool that would support research, education and training.

The Latvian state museum organisation was interested in developing such a system; they turned to SIA IT Consulting, an IT systems developer with extensive experience in the museum sector. Latvian museums had little IT management capacity at the time, and unsupported as they were, scant resources for improvement. It was decided that the development of a common database for collections across the region would the most cost-effective solution, allowing the museum community to share development and maintenance costs.

“The universal nature of the Museum Collections Management system provides total freedom in defining fields in the database,” making the database user-friendly irrespective of the type of collection, explains Andris Kovalauks, of project partner IT Consulting, which managed the project on behalf of the project leader, the State Authority on Museums of Latvia in Riga.

The system was successfully transferred online, and currently provides access to collections in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia via the Internet.

The principal focus of the project was on improving functionality, usability and accessibility to museum collection information, with Internet access as a medium. The Baltic museum community benefited from the opportunity to improve its computer literacy, with software specifically intended for cataloguing and reinforcing a network of cooperation between Baltic museums.

“EUREKA helped all partners to find finance in their own countries - funding that would not have been available in any other way,” adds Mr Kovalausks.

EUREKA, established in 1985, is a market-oriented initiative with 38 full members at present, inclusive of the European Union. Though EUREKA is not specifically an EU programme, the two bodies, whenever possible, strive for cooperation and synergy concerning their respective initiatives, especially for the Framework programmes.

More information:

  • EUREKA homepage
  • The Latvian Ministry of Culture
  • Social sciences in FP7

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