User:Raymond is Raimond Spekking, a Cologne-based Wikipedian and keen photographer. In this - his second report for This Month in GLAM - he talks about a new partnership with the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum in Cologne.
Sign at the entrance of the museum
The new building: Kulturquartier
The Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum is an ethnological museum in Cologne. After being closed for around 2 years, it was reopened in October 2010 in a brand new building.
I tried to contact the museum in September 2010, prior to its re-opening. I never received a reply. However, 9 months later, in May 2011, I got an e-mail from an employee asking me if I was still interested in working with the museum. Yes, I was! We arranged to meet a few days later, in the museum. I told her a lot about Wikipedia, GLAM and ideas for possible cooperations etc. But for the moment the focus was the accuracy of the Wikipedia article about the museum. Together we searched for errors/omissions and I fixed them later at home. With additional material (an exhibition catalog and some text documents) I extended the article a bit (although there is still a lot of room for improvements!)
Furthermore I asked if I would be allowed to take photographs inside the museum. Normally it is allowed for private use only - and even then, tripods are still forbidden. She agreed I could - perhaps a little prematurely.
A few days later the museum retracted photography permission by e-mail. The first caution brought against the publication of photographs in a phone call was founded in the fact that the printing of the photographs in publications should not be possible without knowing the context. The fear was that the photos be used in an innapropriate context or for advertising purposes. The second reason was suprising to me: they feared about restitution of the objects, collected in the 19th century in the colonial era.
In July 2011, I discussed my experience with the museum with Jan Engelmann, employee of Wikimedia Germany. He told me that he knew a scientific assistant of the museum well and that I should e-mail her. No sooner said than done and in September 2011 I had a discussion with the vice manager and 3 scientific assistants. I convinced the vice manager and got the permission to take photos in the museum. Two preconditions: No detail photos of single objects and I have to show the taken images to the museum before I upload them to Wikimedia Commons.
A few days later I took the images in the museum. It was early in the morning, there were very few visitors and the security guard was informed about my permission. The first batch of images were approved by the museum now and some have now been uploaded to Commons. They can bee found here. More will be available soon.
Result: It is the small beginning of a GLAM partnership. I hope that I can enthuse them to do more in the near future: an Editathon maybe, or releasing a part of their photo archive under a free licence to make them more publicly accessible.