Czech Republic’s cultural heritage to go online

Illustrative photo: Ondřej Tomšů

The Czech Republic’s cultural heritage is set to become more accessible than ever after the Ministry of Culture announced it will create a freely accessible central database of the country’s heritage online. Dubbed Czechiana, the EU funded project will make it possible to see anything from maps, pictures and diaries normally located in Czech museums and galleries, on the internet by November 2020.

Illustrative photo: Ondřej Tomšů
Curious what your favourite Czech wrote in his diary when he was gloomy? Want to read what was hot news in the papers in the 1920s? Or are you simply hoping to find that painting that made such an impression on you the last time you visited the National Gallery?

There is good news. Soon you may have the chance to do all of these things online.

At least if everything goes according to plan in a new project announced by the Ministry of Culture called Czechiana. The ministry’s spokeswoman Martha Häckl explains.

“Through digitalising our archives we will give you the opportunity to use a magical viewing glass through which you can see items that are not normally accessible. Rare books, pictures, films, music and other works of art will be viewable online. Last but not least, there will also be 3D models of buildings similar to the 3D model of Notre Dame that recently caught the world’s attention.”

A part of the government's overall digitisation strategy, the project’s budget lies just under CZK 450 million and is co-funded through European structural and investment funds.

It draws inspiration from an EU’s digital platform for cultural heritage called Europeana Collections, which contains over 50 million items collected from more than 3,000 contributing institutions across the union.

Ms. Häckl says that the ministry is working with various regional and municipal partners to bring the collection together.

The country’s major cultural institutions such as the National Gallery, museum, library and film archive are the main sources of information collection.

Illustrative photo: Markéta Kachlíková
In practice Czechiana is likely to serve as a sort of state-wide search engine for culture, redirecting search requests to the individual institutions where the object is located.

The ministry hopes that this will also boost visitations to lesser known museums and other depositories.

“Municipalities that are cooperating with us will be able to benefit from the fact that the visitor can click through the details to find out where each specific object is deposited. This should also help raise the number of visitors to places where our cultural treasures are located.”

Of course, not all works of art are in the public domain. Those objects that are subject to copyright law will be shown only in preview, or low-resolution.

If all goes to plan, Ms. Häckl says Czechiana should be up and running on November 1st, 2020.