The Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam is part of the Royal Tropics Institute (KIT). It presents a rich collection of ethnological material to the public. One of the aims of the KIT is to present what is known as the “third world” in a contemporary setting. The collection is used to provide a historic perspective.
When the Tropenmuseum was approached by members of the Dutch chapter, they were really enthusiastic; when you want to make the cultural heritage of the world generally globally available, Wikipedia and Commons ensure that their rich collection will be available in an encyclopaedic setting.
For the Tropenmuseum its collection of Indonesian material is important. This is a large collection with over 100.000 items. To prepare for this, it started with an initial project about the Maroon of Suriname. This coincides with a big exposition that ran from November 2009 to May 2010. Wikimedians have worked on creating content about the Maroon in Wikipedia and to bolster this effort, over 2000 images from Suriname have been made available. This was followed by a project to bring 100,000 media files from Indonesia to Commons.
On receiving the news that these media files came with Dutch annotations, the Indonesian chapter found people willing to translate these annotations into Indonesian. This will not only open up the material to use by Indonesians, it will also help in verifying the annotations. The names of places for instance have been changed from the time when Indonesia was still a Dutch colony. It will be interesting to identify people in the pictures, a practice that is also valued in the German GLAM projects.
Impact on Wikipedia Community
The Tropenmuseum has also been innovative in adopting a policy whereby high resolution uncompressed images are made available to us. As we have a growing community of people working on the restoration of old images (photos, prints etc.) these images are made available on the condition that they are digitally restored. Several images have been restored and some of them became a featured picture. A necessary part of the featuring process is both the translation of the annotation into English and the inclusion of the images in Wikipedia articles.
The quality of the digital restorations are highly appreciated by the Tropenmuseum. Durova has been asked to work on a massive story cloth. The story depicted is one from the Indonesian mythology and this work that has a length of 15 meters was photographed for this purpose and stitched together in a TIFF file of 992 MB. This wonderful work will be further restored by Durova in close cooperation with the conservator of the Tropenmuseum.
Next steps for interested archivists, librarians and curators of cultural heritage
- Identify a person in your organization that is responsible for the collaboration with Wikipedia
- Contact your local chapter and find out who could assist you
- For further information see: Advice for the cultural sector
- Share your experiences with us and give us feedback