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Finnish National Gallery opens up its collections

Thanks - Jalmari Ruokokoski, Love (detail), 1910. Finnish National Gallery, Ateneum Art Museum, CC0
Thanks - Jalmari Ruokokoski, Love (detail), 1910. Finnish National Gallery, Ateneum Art Museum, CC0

Collections Management Director Riitta Ojanperä explains what is behind the Finnish National Gallery's new Open Access policy.

The Finnish National Gallery recently applied an open licence (CC0) to its digital reproductions of out-of-copyright works, joining leading institutions in the OpenGLAM movement to promote free and open access to digital cultural heritage. 

According to Director Riitta Ojanperä "The FNG aspires to be among the very best museums in northern Europe, taking into consideration our audience needs and expectations. Opening up our collections data is one way of leading our customers towards even richer museum experiences, and of course the requirements of national and EU cultural policies very strongly pointed the way to a tenacious open-data policy. 

The initial drive came from some Finnish OpenGLAM activists around 2012 and our first actual operations came quickly afterwards, focussing on images from our archival collections.  It seems to be a widely shared view, both here in Finland as well as in other countries, that  generous open data policies increase museums’ popularity and generate more visitors and more engaged audiences. Talking about a museum’s business policies, it’s worth considering thoroughly the transaction costs involved in licensing and distributing images, compared, for example, with selling products based on images of artworks and objects in the collections. I don’t recall hearing regrets from any museum that decided to execute a open data policy."

Director Riitta Ojanperä added "I must admit that the FNG has been rather slow in taking the pivotal step towards the large-scale publication of CC0-licensed images. Whilst advancing with baby steps, we have seen museums like the Helsinki City Museum be recognised internationally by opening their data as part of an innovative renewal programme.  Our target groups are many: the educational sector, that is teachers and school children all over Finland; researchers internationally; active users of digital imagery available on the web. One of the main aims of our new collections website is increasing the re-use of FNG data. We’re trying to reach anybody who is willing to connect with the cultural and human values that a museum’s collections can transfer to individuals and communities."

Director Riitta Ojanperä followed on by explaining how "The Finnish National Gallery works with cultural institutions and professionals all over the world. Europeana offers us a good platform for international collaboration and for presenting our collections in a European context.  This focus coincides perfectly with the aims of Europeana. Before Hanna-Leena Paloposki’s residency at Europeana, one of the FNG curators had already joined the Europeana Art advisory board, and some of us are members of the Europeana Network Association. After Hanna-Leena’s residency and her beautiful online exhibition, we look forward to further collaboration in the future."


They will replace their collections management software from spring 2018, to use one system to manage all their collections.  They will also launch a new online collections website next autumn.  The concept of which is currently under construction. Once implemented they will launch their new website and ensure some archive collections will be available in Europeana. 

View highlights from the Finnish National Gallery or explore the entire collection in Europeana

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