In September 2011, the first GLAM project in Israel began. The project is a collaboration the "Information Center for Israeli Art" at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, led by Dr. Allison Kupietzky, who is the Collections Database Manager of the museum. We have a Wikipedian-in-Residence, Yair Talmor, who is working at the Museum, in a two-month pilot project.
The pilot with the IMJ is important not only since it is a collaboration with the biggest museum in Israel, but, it is also the first GLAM project in the country, which means it will set a certain standard and serve as a study-case for future projects. Keeping that in mind, the first thing we did was to set very clear and measurable milestones by making sure the project has very vivid goals and finite boundaries.
50 Israeli artists, who take part in the permanent exhibition at the Museum, were chosen for the pilot. It was decided articles will be created in both Hebrew and English, thinking they would serve as a base to be translated to other languages as well. Out of those 50, the 15 most important were chosen and their articles will be expanded. This will allow for the project to be bi-lingual: articles exist in two different platforms - Hebrew and English. The first challenge is to make sure these two platforms interact, exchange info and are generally in-sync. It's a never-ending process, and we have a month left to focus on that.
In order to have a successful project, we knew we would have to not only promote the project itself, but also increase "GLAM awareness" within the Hebrew Wikipedia community and within the Israeli public at large. We simply don't have enough people writing about art in general, and more specifically Israeli art. Thus, one of the goals was harnessing existing Wikipedians to the project, as well as recruiting new editors, who might be specifically interested in art - including art students, lecturers, curators, art-galleries owners and of course -- artists.
To enrich each article we need media (pictures, films and audio) to be released to Commons. The Museum has a rich collection, but it is not public domain. Therefore, energy is being focused on releasing media as well.
To overcome the mentioned challenges, we are really working on a few things in parallel. As of now:
100 Articles were created, two for each artist, in Hebrew and English.
One artist participating in the pilot, Larry Abramson, has already been translated into 7 languages - English, Hebrew, German, Dutch, Chinese, Russian, and recently -- Swahili!
We have a very active project page in Hebrew, and a project page in English. We are constantly working on making sure that not only the articles are in-sync, but also the project pages. Right now there's a lot to be done.
We've started contacting each artist participating in the pilot, in order to get not only current biographical details, but also permission to release pictures. Most of those we've reached, are very happy to participate and have given permission to release photos.
The Museum has agreed to release the "Tsafrir Collection" to the public. The collection consists of 250 black & white photos of portraits of artist and photographs of art works. We are working on scanning the collection and uploading it to Commons.
A collection of audio cassettes has been released by the Museum as well. It includes rare interviews with artists. Again, we are working on converting them into a digital format so we can upload it to Commons.
We are working on releasing documentaries about Israeli artists. Some of the rights belong to the Museum, but most don't, so we are in the process to working with the museum to release some films as well.
We are working on contacting universities, art experts and art lovers to join the project.
On October 25th, we had a "Behind the Scenes" tour at the Israel Museum. The tour began with a 45 minute visit to two restoration labs at the Museum, in which Wikipedians got explanations from Museum staff about working in the labs; exposing the Wikipedians to 'never-seen-before' artifacts. The tour continued with a short visit to the Information Center for Israeli Art and ended with a private tour at the Micha Ullman's exhibition, guided by the chief curator of the Museum, Yigal Zalmona.
The tour was a huge success. We had about 30 people - Wikipedians, Wikipedians-in-the-making and participants from the general public who were curious about the project and came to the Museum. It was a varied audience, with men as well as women, and the age range was from 11 to over 60. But most importantly, there was a warm and welcoming atmosphere and everyone who participated enjoyed the experience, including Museum staff. All in all, not bad for a first event!
An Edit-a-thon - we will focus on editing articles using materials from the Information Center. We will also be using this platform to initiate new editors.
Participation in the "EVA/Minerva2011", the Van Leer institute, Jerusalem - As of now, that is the biggest conference in Israel dealing with Digital Heritage. We were allocated a 2-hour session, in which we will be talking about Wikipedia, Wikimedia and its outreach projects, focusing on GLAM and GLAM projects in Israel.
End-of-Pilot Event - An "Israeli Art & Digitized Information Conference" - this conference will target artists, gallery-owners, students, lecturers, curators and art enthusiasts, exposing them to GLAM in general and to our project in particular. We are hoping this will help us expend the circle of editors, inviting new editors, some of them experts in their field, to write in Wikipedia and contribute to the GLAM efforts.
We are very happy to announce that a second GLAM project has begun a few days ago in Israel. This is a collaboration with The National Library of Israel, with a Wikipedian-in-Residence program. The project will focus on providing access to a historic collection of 3,000 photographs, by making it accessible on Wikipedia, as a first step towards the exposing of more National Library materials to larger audiences. More details next month!