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Museum Objects on Wikimedia Commons

For museums, presenting their objects and information about them is of central importance. The Institut für Museumsforschung (Institute for Museum Research) Staatliche Museen zu Berlin supports museums in this effort in a variety of ways. Wikimedia Commons, as the central image platform for all wikis worldwide, is one of the most important hubs for image information. With 900 million page views and about 1 billion requests per month (source: stats.wikimedia.org), it is an ideal place to present the “digital objects” corresponding to the objects preserved in the collections.

A joint initiative of the Institut für Museumforschung and representatives of the Wiki community supports museums that want to use Wikimedia Commons. The basis for “data donations” by museums is the object information and image data registered in the museum documentation systems. This repository ensures that well-maintained and verified object information and high quality images can be made available to a broad public. Open licensing offers the possibility of other uses.

First Data Donation in June 2022

Since June 2022, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin has been able to furnish extensive metadata as well as high-quality images of cultural heritage that is openly licensed (with the Public Domain Mark 1.0 or the CC-BY-SA license). The Institut für Museumforschung initiated a first data donation on the basis of the Open Science Declaration of the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (SPK, Prussian Cultural Heritage). This first data donation served to test efficient and practical implementation strategies and to establish cooperation between the Institut für Museumforschung and the Wikipedia community. The donation included a total of 9,275 datasets from the Gemäldegalerie (Old Master Paintings) and the Münzkabinett (Numismatic Collection) of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

Following the first successful implementation of the initative, further data donations are being prepared. The Institut für Museumforschung will continue to promote, accompany and support the process. Another goal is to expand the initiative by winning over more museums throughout Germany for data donations. The Institut für Museumforschung is available for this purpose as a contact partner.


Team: Frank von Hagel (Institut für Museumsforschung), Raimond Spekking (Wikimedia Commons), Maria Stein (Gemäldegalerie), Karsten Dahmen (Münzkabinett)
Partners: Wikimedia Commons, Institut für Museumsforschung (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz)
Start: June 2022