The European Commission and the DCA consortium, comprising 25 partners from 10 EU member states and the 2 associated countries, Croatia and Iceland, have officially launched the project Digitising Contemporary Art (DCA) initiating a significant increase in the presence of contemporary art in Europeana, the single access point to Europe’s cultural heritage.

Over 30 months 21 museums and art institutions will digitise approximately 27,000 contemporary artworks and 2,000 contextual documents, making them available through the Europeana portal. With the co-funding of the European Commission under the CIP-ICT PSP programme and the commitment of the 25 partners, the DCA project aims to create high-quality digital reproductions and assure the long-term preservation of and online access to such reproductions and their data. To support similar future digitisation projects, it will also publish guidelines and documentation on best practices regarding the digitisation of contemporary art.

By July 2013 the metadata on the digitised objects will be mapped, enriched, contextualised, and aggregated for ingestion into Europeana. The DCA project will also deliver digital thumbnail images of objects and links to high-quality reproductions to Europeana. The partner institution can then make this digital content available through their own websites and other channels as well. This will facilitate the public online access to (parts of) the contemporary art collections of partner institutions and foster augmented user experience. At the same time the digital reproductions and metadata will also contribute to the preservation of the artworks and contextual documents.

The DCA project intends to enhance the online visibility of contemporary art as an essential expression and an invaluable building block of European culture, and to stimulate the interest of the general public with a stronger presence of contemporary art in the Europeana portal. The European Commission recognised the need for a coordinated and simple access to online repositories of European culture. Europeana enables people to explore the digital resources of Europe’s museums, libraries, archives and audiovisual collections. It currently contains 14.6 million objects and since its launch in November 2008, millions of hits have been registered. These numbers reflect the widespread interest in online access to European culture heritage. For a portal such as Europeana, aiming to cover a broad range of European culture, it is imperative to include contemporary art. DCA will contribute to this.

DCA is coordinated by PACKED vzw, a Brussels-based organisation that, since its foundation in 2005, has grown from a platform organisation for the archiving and preservation of audiovisual arts into a centre of expertise for digital cultural heritage. The organisation is financially supported by the Ministry of The Flemish Community of Belgium.

DCA is co-funded by the CIP-ICT Policy Support Programme of the European Union

The museums and art institutions are:

Austria: Ars Electronica

Belgium: argos – centre for art and media (Brussels), MAC’s – Museum of Contemporary Art of the French Community of Belgium (Grand-Hornu), Mu.ZEE – Collection of the province of West Flanders and the City of Ostend (Ostend), Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium (Brussels)

Croatia: MMSU – Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Rijeka (Rijeka)

Germany: EMAF – European Media Art Festival (Osnabrück), HfG – Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung Karlsruhe (Karlsruhe), Transmediale (Berlin)

Greece: Frissiras Museum (Athens), MMCA – Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art (Thessaloniki), National Gallery-Alexandros Soutzos Museum (Athens)

Iceland: National Gallery of Iceland (Reykjavik), RAM – Reykjavík Art Museum (Reykjavik)

Latvia: Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art (Riga)

Netherlands: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam), NIMk – Netherlands Institute for Media Art (Amsterdam)

Poland: WRO Art Center (Wroclaw)

Portugal: Fundação de Serralves (Porto)

Slovenia: MG – Moderna Galerija (Ljubljana)

Spain: Antoni Tapiès Foundation (Barcelona)

The technical partners are:

NTUA – National Technical University of Athens (Athens, Greece), Multimedia Lab Ghent University – IBBT Interdisciplinary Institute for Broadband Technology (Ghent, Belgium), Ubitech – Ubiquitous Intelligent Technical Solutions (Athens, Greece)