Project Details

Europeana Collections

Europe’s cultural heritage at one online destination

By Europeana

Project URL:
Project Twitter: @europeanaeu

  • Internet

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has over 1 million objects, but can only put 8,000 of them on display. At the same time, rare works of art are held by local and niche museums that can be hard to get to. With such a wealth of culture and art across Europe, surely there must be a way to bring it all to EU’s citizens. 

In 2005, Jacques Chirac, President of France, together with the premiers of Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland and Hungary, sent a letter to the President of the European Commission that recommended the creation of a virtual European library to make Europe’s cultural heritage accessible for all.

A prototype was launched in 2008, giving access to 4.5 million digital objects – more than double the initial target, from over 1,000 organisations across Europe. The level of interest was astounding. Usage peaked at 10 million hits an hour, crashing the servers. A number of technical upgrades later, Europeana was launched in 2009, and by 2011 the site featured a translation tool, and gave access to over 10 million digital objects. 

Today, Europeana features art from over 3,000 institutions across Europe, from the likes of Rijksmuseum, the British Library and the Louvre, as well as local museums from every corner of the European Union. Highlights include Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, and music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The objects are stored by each individual institution, with Europeana compiling thumbnails and metadata that users can search, exploring the Collections by colour, theme, artist, format or language. Clear copyright information shows the user what can and cannot be done with an object. 

New for 2016 are curated collections on popular interest topics, and Europeana 280 – a cross-border campaign to get people across Europe excited about their heritage. Discover European Collections for yourself at

Image courtesy of Europeana

Last updated: 13th of September, 2016

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