The project Digitising Contemporary Art for Europeana (DCA) is in full swing and has exceeded expectations. In recent months visitors to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen have been given a peek behind the scenes during the digitisation of installations, sculptures and assemblages by contemporary artists in the museums collection.
Over the past few months Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has digitally documented more than a hundred artworks, many of them complex ones. Visitors were able to follow the process over the summer. Specially for this project numerous multi-part installations have been built, photographed and carefully documented in the past five months. In this period, 73,000 visitors have witnessed the documenting of works including the Salvador Dalís famous Mae West Lips Sofa van, Barry Flanagans installation Oh! Mind How You Cross, made from dozens of metres of rope; and an installation by Carel Visser, made up of almost sixty components. For this project, the museum has so far digitised a total of 425 works of art. Since June 2013 the digital material has been available on the site www.europeana.eu
and on the museums own website collectie.boijmans.nl. The digitisation of other works is taking place behind closed doors.
DCA and Boijmans
Since 1 January 2011 Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has been among twenty-one European museums and art institutions that have been digitising post-war works of art under the auspices of the European Commission. In addition to providing digital access to new parts of the collection, the project offers the museum the ability to augment existing information about the works, for example with condition reports and guidelines for installying the works. Several artists have been present during the installation of their own works. DCA has also provided the opportunity for the restoration of various objects prior to the digitisation process.
Towards a digital database
Of the 27,000 contemporary artworks and 2000 accompanying documents that make up the entire DCA project, almost 50 per cent have already been digitised. To date 12,834 works of art have been documented, including works by Barry Flanagan, Atelier Van Lieshout and Claes Oldenburg. For those involved, DCA organises workshops about procedures, methods and problematics relating to the digitisation and preservation of works of art. DCA publishes practical guidelines emerging from the project on the website www.dca-project.eu, together with interviews with museum staff and other people involved.
European cultural heritage
DCA makes a significant contribution to the presentation of contemporary art on Europeana, the website that offers digital access to cultural heritage in European museums, libraries, archives and audiovisual collections. Europeana currently provides access to more than twenty million items, including more than 5,000 works from the collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. Making these works digitally accessible is an enrichment for both the general public and art world professionals.