Finding the world's cultural heritage institutions – for everyone to access on Wikidata
Wikimedia Sverige has carried out several projects aimed at enriching Wikidata with data about cultural heritage around the world and the institutions preserving it. Work will now continue to finalize the tasks started in these projects, in close collaboration with Wikimedians and GLAM partners.
In the project FindingGLAMs data was collected about cultural heritage institutions – museums, libraries, archives and galleries – and was added to Wikidata, so that it's easy to access and re-use. A large part of our work consisted of researching existing lists of GLAM institutions, published for example by national and regional authorities. However, such registers – especially machine-readable and published under open licenses – are mostly available in affluent areas in the western world, leading to the underrepresentation of the Global South. Here's where the Wikimedia projects and their volunteers are indispensable!
This is not the first or only project of this sort in the Wikimedia ecosystem. The community has for a long time recognized the importance of collating information about GLAMs, as they are the cultural and educational hubs of our societies. The more we know about them, the easier it is to share this information with others, raising the awareness about their work and collections with our users.
Some of the previous initiatives include Sum of all GLAMs, Mapping GLAM in Maharashtra, International Museum Day 2021 and Wiki Loves Bahia. Wikimedia communities around the world organize activities, involving both Wikimedians and GLAM staff, to improve the coverage of local institutions by writing Wikipedia articles, enriching their data on Wikidata and uploading images to Wikimedia Commons. The development of Wikidata has made it a natural central hub where all this valuable material can converge and be expanded by editors from outside the original communities, encouraging multilingualism and collaboration.
This is the foundation that FindingGLAMs is building upon – we hope to continue our work in collaboration with all the Wikimedia organizations and volunteers who have laid the groundwork for making Wikidata the largest freely available database of the world's cultural heritage and the actors that work with it.
We are looking for openly-licensed lists and registers of cultural heritage institutions around the world that can be imported to Wikidata. Since the Global South is heavily underrepresented on the Wikimedia projects, we are particularly interested in data from those regions.
Putting the data on Wikidata is only the first step. It can always be improved, connected to other datasets, visualized in interesting ways and re-used on Wikipedia in different languages. Do you have any ideas for projects centered around GLAM data on the Wikimedia projects? Let us know so that we can together make them reality.
We are also looking into expanding our content partnership network. Do you know of a GLAM that has valuable collections that deserve to be shared on the Wikimedia platforms? Let us know!