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June 11, 2020

#IMD2020: Fostering the presence of museums on Wikipedia and Wikidata

Debora Lopomo

GLAM Program & Partnership Manager, Wikimedia Switzerland (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums)

With around 15 billion page views per month, the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia is one of the most visited websites in the world. However, less than 50% of museums of the world have an article or records on Wikidata. For International Museum Day 2020, Wikimedia lead an online campaign to boost their visibility.

Wikipedia is the most popular project of the Wikimedia movement, which also includes a family of open knowledge projects such as the media library Wikimedia Commons and Wikidata, a platform that holds publicly available structured metadata.

Wikipedia is in constant and rapid development. Every second, 1.8 edits are made by voluntary editors from all over the world. Currently, the English Wikipedia includes 6,092,440 articles and it averages 593 new articles per day. On any search engine, it ranks on the top of the results list.

The semantic web, known as web 3.0, is expected to dominate the next generation of intelligent web, and digitalisation of cultural heritage brings far reaching consequences and changes in the way cultural institutions will operate in the future. For museums, it is of utmost importance to be visible, present and virtually interlinked.

Is your museum present on Wikipedia or Wikidata?

Explore the map below:

(Only for museums located in Austria, France, Germany, Italy or Switzerland)

In our mission to foster free online access to cultural knowledge in the world, the Wikimedia chapters of Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France and Italy joint forces and launched an online campaign and a Wikidata contest for this year’s International Museum Day.

Our main objective was to set a strong message due to the COVID-19 pandemic and motivate museum professionals as well as our voluntary community to contribute to free cultural content across borders and nations.

There are many ways to support International Museum Day 2020, perform research and contribute to the Wikimedia projects, closing the gaps, without physically visiting a museum. Many museums released high resolution images and information under a free license, or organised virtual collection tours.

Wikimedia’s joint activities for IMD 2020: boosting cultural democracy and accessibility

The campaign, lead and organized by Wikimedia Switzerland, supporter of International Museum Day since 2018, included:

  • a common project page to describe the project, how to participate and contribute;
  • geographic map to visualize the museum landscape in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France and Italy, connected to Wikimedia content, based on Wikidata records;
  • a far-reaching Wikipedia banner campaign in four languages for two weeks, to raise awareness about IMD2020 and the Wikidata contest;
  • Wikidata Contest, managed by Wikimedia Austria, from May 3 to 18, 2020, with the objective to improve and complete meta data related to museums and collections in Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland;
  • an optional Dashboard for participants working on Wikipedia articles and uploading museum related images to Wikimedia Commons;
  • Communication activities in all the collaborating countries to inform press and community on social media channels about IMD2020, our campaign, the contest, results and the winners;
  • Finally, a collaboration with ICOM has started to discuss guidelines, policies and Creative Commons Licenses, which are relevant for using and sharing the communication material of International Museum Day.

Wikidata Contest results: a resounding success!

In total, 278 participants created 715 items and edited nearly 20,000 others. The campaign also encouraged volunteers to add translations of existing pages in minority languages, to allow accessibility across diverse communities. Through the two weeks, the number of edits reached 175,000, representing 28,6 million bytes!

Interested in detailed statistics and information about the winners? Visit the Wikidata Contest project page.

We thank all the participants in this year’s IMD edition, volunteers, authors and professionals, who constantly contribute to the Wikimedia projects, supporting the mission of making free cultural knowledge accessible to the world. GLAM Team of the Wikimedia chapters Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland