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Our Mission

Europeana empowers the cultural heritage sector in its digital transformation.  We develop expertise, tools and policies to embrace digital change and encourage partnerships that foster innovation.  We make it easier for people to use cultural heritage for education, research, creation and recreation. Our work contributes to an open, knowledgeable and creative society.

Our vision

Europeana imagines a cultural heritage sector powered by digital and a Europe powered by culture, giving it a resilient, growing economy, increased employment, improved well-being and a sense of European identity.

Who we are

Europeana is made possible by the collaboration of three interlinked expert organisations who share the vision of a cultural heritage sector transformed by digital, and a Europe transformed by culture. Together, we call this ecosystem the Europeana Initiative.

What we do

Europeana empowers cultural heritage institutions to share their collections with the world. Over 58 million cultural heritage items from around 4,000 institutions across Europe are available online via Europeana Collections. We work to share and promote this heritage so that it can be used and enjoyed by people across the world.

Europeana supports all cultural heritage institutions to create good quality digital assets in standardised formats, allowing them to share, explore, interrogate and use their collections in ways that fulfil their institutions’ own 21st century missions. We work with our partners on standardising how we deal with data and present it in a way that's accurate, useful and means it can be used beyond Europeana Collections - for example in the research, education and creative sectors. Our frameworks for interoperability and standardisation of data, rights and measurement of impact have been adopted internationally.

Europeana encourages cultural heritage institutions to work collaboratively with the organisations and resources of the Europeana Initiative, including the Europeana Network Association and the Europeana Aggregators’ Forum. We work with these organisations to raise awareness, build partnerships, enable peer-to-peer working and develop tools, services and events which support cultural heritage organisations in their digital transformation.

Europeana operates in line with EU policies and strategies in areas such as inclusiveness, online accessibility, reuse of public information, promotion of EU research, development and innovation. Our success is dependent on the interplay of the Europeana Initiative and activities that occur on a national level, encouraged and coordinated by EU Member States.

Strategy 2020-2025 summary

With this strategic plan for 2020-2025, the Europeana Initiative will be strengthened, supported and reinvigorated as a strong networked organisation.

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Our values

Access to cultural heritage leads to positive social and economic change, and digital technology can support and accelerate that change. That does not simply mean applying technology. It means applying it with serious consideration in line with a set of core values that are deeply ingrained throughout our organisation.

  • Usable: Europeana provides the impetus, expertise and tools to support cultural heritage institutions in harnessing digital to open up their collections - to make them available to be used in new ways.  Content and technology need to be accessible. They need to be easy-to-use and open, otherwise, the reach of any social or economic impact will be limited.
  • Mutual: The Europeana Initiative is a networked organisation, a partnership of connected bodies and cultural heritage professionals. Europeana fosters creative collaboration and teamwork, working towards common goals for mutual benefit.  Innovation needs to be community-based and reciprocal, combining the best of sector knowledge and practices.
  • Reliable: Europeana supports the cultural heritage institutions that safeguard Europe’s heritage, those who organise it, structure it and make it accessible with great care and precision. Europeana is committed to ensuring that its digital data is always authentic, trustworthy and robust, that it’s easy to create with and that partners benefit from sharing it.

Brief history

In 2005, a letter signed by French President Jacques Chirac and five other heads of state asked European Union officials to support the development of a European digital library. The Europeana prototype went live on 20 November 2008. Museums, audiovisual archives and galleries joined the libraries, creating a common access point to Europe’s cultural heritage. At launch, Europeana gave access to 4.5 million digital objects. 

In January 2011, the European Commission released its ‘New Renaissance’ report which endorsed Europeana as ‘the central reference report for Europe’s online cultural heritage’. A huge milestone followed in September 2012 when, in the first move of its kind, Europeana metadata was released under the terms of the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication, making the metadata itself freely available for any kind of use, boosting opportunities for digital innovation and creativity.

In May 2015,  Europeana became one of the European Commission’s Digital Service Infrastructures (DSI), all of which deliver networked cross-border services for citizens, businesses and public administrations. As a DSI, Europeana’s objectives are to make it easier for institutions to share their collections online effectively, to improve the quality of data and content shared with Europeana, and to empower cultural heritage institutions to build their capacity for digital transformation. All of this helps make sure that Europe’s people, institutions and businesses reap the full benefits of the technological revolution in digital services for culture.

As of early 2020, Europeana Collections provides access to 58 million digital objects - books, music, artworks and more - with sophisticated search and filter tools, and many themed collections, exhibitions, galleries and blogs.