In China, spirituality has historically been a crucial aspect of arts and architecture. A specific part of art and architecture where the spiritual and the real meet is garden design and horticulture, as in facts traditional Chinese garden design and cultivation is an activity associated with deeply intellectual and artistic practice. Not intended to be discovered at a glance, but hoping to continuously incite and surprise, the Chinese garden is laid out as a road of discovery.
The surrounding garden wall, ponds with lotus flowers and other water plants, lacquered bridges, bamboo groves, pavilions, temples and pagodas make for inspiring scenery. The goal of these gardens is to connect the realm of the physical with that of the ideal, to express the harmony that should exist between humans and nature.
In the 16th century, the first Jesuits arrived in China settling in the port-city of Macao in South China, at that time owned by Portugal. From this base, the Jesuits entered the Chinese hinterland and began their work of conversion, also initiating a long term collaboratioon with the Chinese, producing marvelous works of art and achieving important breakthroughs in science.
During their stay in China, the cultural exchange between Jesuits and Chinese would result in advances in astronomy and mathematics, beautiful works of art, and shining beacons of architecture.
Discover the stories and history of Jesuits in China in the second part of a blog authored by Julien Ménabréaz on Europeana website >>
The Society of Jesus, better known as the order of Jesuits, was a society founded in 1539 by Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) with the aim to convert the world to Catholicism. In the 16th century, the first Jesuits arrived in China settling in the port-city of Macao in South China, at that time owned by Portugal. From this base, the Jesuits entered the Chinese hinterland and began their work of conversion. While establishing churches at different locations, they even started fostering the dream of converting the Chinese emperor himself.
During their stay in China, the cultural exchange between Jesuits and Chinese would result in advances in astronomy and mathematics, beautiful works of art, and shining beacons of architecture. But there was also intrigue, spying, and political and religious opposition to Jesuits.
Discover the stories and history of Jesuits in China in a two-part blog authored by Julien Ménabréaz on Europeana website >>
On the 2nd December 2021, the validation meeting of project PAGODE – Europeana China took place with participation of HaDEA Project Officer Ms. Kyriaki Tragouda and representatives of European Commission DG CNECT Ms. Katerina Moutogianni and Mr. Fulgencio Sanmartín.
The validation meeting has the scope to assess the correct and complete achievement of the project’s objectives. All project partners were invited in the meeting, together with a number of colleagues from Europeana’s various areas, to present to the reviewers all the work done across the project’s activities to improve, enrich and enhance user experience with Europeana content.
A particular attention was dedicated to highlight the very good outcomes in the interaction and collaboration established between Europeana Aggregators, that enabled collections coming from different sources and providers come together via different aggregation routes for being published on Europeana portal. An additional layer in the interaction with colleague Europeana Aggregators is the collection and sharing of good practice and guidelines that sprang from PAGODE experience, also illustrated in a nice workshop on building an aggregation value chain presented during the Europeana Aggregators fair 2021.
Another topic of extensive discussion was that of metadata enrichments, and PAGODE partners together with Europeana team described the process of creation, validation and publication of both crowdsourced and automatic enrichments. This activity took place with various actions across the project’s timeframe, and eventually delivered to Europeana collections ca. 27.000 additional metadata of both highly specialized and more general information, thus enriching existing collections with more keywords sourced from the community.
Next to creating new and high-quality cultural heritage records from digitization, among the activities in PAGODE a big effort was deployed to annotate and enrich with additional concepts (i.e. metadata) a selection of existing collections from Europeana, thus adding more and richer information for a better use experience in Europeana. This work was done in two different actions:
Deep curatorial annotation on selected objects: this is also called the PAGODE Annotation Pilot, and the action made use of a crowdsourcing platform, where users can access curated collections sourced from Europeana and manually “tag” each record with appropriate keywords about places, subjects and highly-specific terms related to Chinese heritage. This task was coordinated by partner Photoconsortium and was also presented in a dedicated seminar during the PAGODE Digital Festival.
Automated semantic enrichment: by the use of algorithms and artificial intelligence, additional metadata are extracted from the existing records. The additional metadata are then re-associated to the cultural resource, also adding links to authority files and established LOD thesauri. A human-in-the-loop approach in the validation of the enrichments guarantees the highest level of confidence for these AI-generated information, thus sending back to Europeana trustable metadata. This task was coordinated by partner PostScriptum.
One target of PAGODE project was specifically dedicated to automatic enrichment of the metadata of a minimum of 20,000 records already present on Europeana, from various content partners. The process run through a number of phases:
Content selection: identification of datasets already published in Europeana which would benefit from metadata improvement/enrichment.
Identification of AI and NLP tools: automated enrichment by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques were applied to existing collections in Europeana. These two technologies allow to recognize automatically the information that is embedded in the content and in the metadata, and to add relevant terms and links to authority files in the existing metadata. This process had the advantage of enabling bulk enrichment of large datasets, which would require a huge effort and extended time scale if done manually.
Automatic enrichment: in the scope of PAGODE, automated enrichment was performed by use of algorithms trained with the list of keywords developed by the sinologists at the University of Ljubljana, and run on metadata sourced from existing Europeana collections. The algorithms recognize the terms and enrich the metadata with the links to the respective entries in Getty AAT or Wikidata, and the enrichments are made available to Europeana for display in the respective records. In order to create automatic semantic enrichments of EDM records we used the SAGE – Semantic Enrichment and Data management platform with an integrated validation subsystem. The SAGE platform, developed as open source independently from PAGODE, allows importing heterogeneous data (e.g. XML, CSV, JSON, RDF, etc.) from multiple sources and enriching the data through external services. Additionally, via this tool all the available multilingual translation from Wikidata and Getty links would be further available on the basis of Europeana mechanisms. The enrichments as automatically generated in PAGODE were forwarded to Europeana for publication via the Annotation API. The enrichments were provided in CSV files containing the Europeana item ID along with the respective URIs of the enrichments.
Validation: A human-in-the-loop approach in the validation of the enrichments guaranteed the highest level of confidence for this AI-generated information, thus sending back to Europeana trustable metadata. For this reason, a validation interface was integrated in the enrichment system and it was provided to the project partners to evaluate the produced annotations. The tool provided to the validators the option to accept/reject an annotation, or manually create new annotations where applicable. In terms of accuracy and trustworthiness of the validation process, a methodology and guidelines were given to the validators from the sinologists’ team of the University of Ljubljana, guaranteeing quality assurance and acting as a form of a strategy in order to reject low confidence annotations and filter out poor quality annotations. The validation process required that all datasets were 100% validated.
Ingestion to Europeana: The total amount of enriched records is 22,410, enriched with annotations using AAT or Wikidata. These enrichments were provided to Europeana via the Annotation API, to be then published in the Collections Portal.
image: PAGODE project
PAGODE – Europeana China is co-financed by the Connecting Europe Facility Programme of the European Union, under GA n. INEA/CEF/ICT/A2019/1931839
img. poster of the exhibition, sourced via the CAFA website (cropped)
Situ Zhaoguang is one of the most renowned sculptors of China. His oeuvres are considered true masterpieces and he spent most of his life teaching students at the Sculpture Department at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing.
Now, the CAFA Art Museum hosts a great exhibition to showcase his works and life. Among the exhibition designers, Zhaoguang’s son Situ Xiaochun, also a sculptor himself, curated the exhibition about his father.
A selection of heritage photographs of Zhaoguang’s life and family was recently digitized and is hosted on Promoter Digital Gallery, and was shared to Europeana in the framework of the PAGODE – Europeana China project.
Recover, Rebuild, Grow is the Europeana 2021 conference, taking place on 10-12 November 2021. The rich programme of speeches, presentations and interactive activities aimed to raise voices from across the cultural heritage sector to empower digital transformation and find ways to supporting a sustainable, responsible and inspiring cultural heritage sector for today and tomorrow.
In addition to the conference programme, a virtual environment on Gathertown allowed participants to interact and explore more resources including a virtual poster session where also PAGODE poster was showcased.
image: Roller: this carved roller on a stand is for viewing hand scroll paintings. The tube is closed on both sides with dark brown wood and rotates horizontally on a brown wooden base. Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, Netherlands – CC BY-SA via Europeana.
NMVW / WMR
The Nationaal Museum van
Wereldculturen (NMVW) is an umbrella institution founded in 2014 that
incorporates the formerly separate institutions: Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam,
Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden, and the Afrika Museum in Berg en Dal, whose
collections belong to the Dutch state. Since 2017, NMVW has a partnership with
the Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam (WMR), whose collections belong to that city.
Together these museums bring together the largest, most diverse and best
collections of non-European art and material culture in the Netherlands, consisting
of almost 450,000 objects and 750,000 images, including the most important
anthropological material culture and photographic collection in the
Netherlands. Overall, the collections
highlight the intercultural nature of all cultures and periods, and presents a
resource for all those interested to learn about history, cultural diversity
and creativity. The museum is for – and about
– people. NMVW believes that it is important to
interpret the collections and understand historical processes in an open and
critical way, in order to continue to build on the relevance of these world
cultures collections in our custodianship, and to see their role in fostering
understandings of citizenship in a global frame.
The Chinese collections at NMVW and WMR consist of nearly 2000 images and over 20,000 objects, ranging from Shang dynasty oracle bones to contemporary art. Most of these continue to be housed in the repositories of the Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden, a precursor of which was founded in 1837 as one of the first academic ethnographic museums in the world. Museum Volkenkunde’s initial collection consisted of objects acquired by the physician Philipp Franz von Siebold (1796-1866), mainly from Japan, but also China and Tibet. The earliest Chinese collection was ammased during the eighteenth century by lawyer Jean-Theodore Royer (1737-1807). Royer tried to study Chinese language and culture, for which he acquired hundreds of objects such as Chinese books, paintings, ceramics, scholar’s objects, and clothing. Highlights include over 80 albums of watercolour paintings, of which at least a dozen can be dated to the mid-1770s. Another important early collection is that of Prof. Jan J. M. de Groot (1854-1921) who systematically collected religious and ritual artefacts during his fieldwork in Xiamen in the 1880s, later included in his ground-breaking publication The Religious System of China. The NMVW holds an outstanding collection of nineteenth- and twentieth- century paintings and calligraphy, many of which were acquired from Dutch sinologists such as Robert van Gulik and Erik Zürcher. Other noteworthy categories include export paintings on canvas and (reverse) glass, Yao religious paintings, Dongba manuscripts, numismatics, and over 500 prints dating from the 17th – 20th centuries in which there are a number of rare examples.
In the frame of PAGODE, a wealth of over 3.200 exquisite items in high resolution and open access were published on Europeana.
NMVW/WMR has always
invested in digitizing its collection and publishing its collection online. We
strongly believe that it is important to share information about our
collections as widely as possible and be transparent regarding our collecting
practices. Nearly all the collection objects on our website have published
metadata. Because of sensitivities regarding rights or the objects themselves,
we sometimes need to limit the amount of data we can share or at times we are
not able to share a digital image of the object. We currently have images for
92% of our collection. In the coming years we will be working on improving the
quality for our images, developing machine learning pipelines for generating
better metadata for our photographic collection, experimenting with 3D
scanning, modelling and using storytelling applications and AR applications
aimed at a more general audience as well as researchers. We will be working on
further implementing Linked Open Data (LOD) techniques during the coming years.
On our website we provide professionals with computer readable datasets about
our collection as well as our Wereldculturen thesaurus.
img. Wuhan Yellow Crane Tower by Powkee Photographer – Finnish Heritage Agency, Finland – CC BY via Europeana.
Museovirasto (Finnish Heritage Agency) was founded in 1884 and is responsible for protecting environments with cultural history value, archaeological and architectural heritage, and other cultural property. It also collects, studies and presents national collections and both supports and develops the museum field nationally. Museovirasto is funded by Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. Museovirasto promotes and supports the opening up of cultural heritage material on a larger scale, as well as better availability, easier accessibility and the free use of cultural heritage material. This is done by opening up material and inspiring people to experience and find it. Museovirasto also supports new models and tools for the freer and more versatile use of cultural heritage. Sustainable development, common well-being as well as digitalisation and developing new digital services, new manners of cooperation and our own customer understanding are all in the focus of Museovirasto. Finnish National Digital Library finna.fi is one good example of both digital services and cooperation. National Library of Finland is responsible for Finna and Museovirasto is developing and using it with other GLAM organizations.
China collections at Museovirasto
The National Museum of Finland, which is part of Museovirasto, has in its archaeological, historical, ethnological and ethnographic collections about 2 million objects. Picture Collections of Museovirasto has over 18 million images in its collections. They consist of historical, ethnological, architecture and journalistic picture materials. Ethnographic collections include 40,000 objects and about 200,000 images, collected from every continent, among them some important collections also from China and Central Asia. Some of them were collected already in the 19th century. Best known and most important are the collections of C.G. Mannerheim and the collections of FELM (Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission). Mannerheim served as a Colonel in the Imperial Russian Army and was sent to the East as a military intelligence officer in 1906–1908 – on horseback across Central Asia, through Tibetan territory and onwards to Beijing. Mannerheim posed also as a scientist and acquired a sizeable collection of objects from the peoples in the region and took over a thousand pictures. Pictures have already been digitized and can be found also on Europeana. The artefacts of the discontinued Kumbukumbu Museum of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission (FELM) were added to the ethnographic collections in 2015. They include both objects and about 160,000 images. FELM started its work in China in 1902 and this collection tells both their work as well as their interest in Chinese culture and heritage. The work of FELM in China was concentrated in the Hunan province, but its collection has material also from other provinces and parts of China.
Collections are digitized using different cameras and software (mainly Capture One Pro, Adobe Photoshop® and Lightroom®) and digital files and metadata are preserved in the MuseumPlus collection management system. Metadata and files are ingested also to the servers of CSC (IT Center for Science), which preserves cultural heritage for future generations. Museovirasto publishes digitized collections mainly on Finnish national digital library finna.fi, on its own platform museovirasto.finna.fi and on Europeana. Images are published mainly using CC BY licence and most of them can be uploaded freely in high-resolution, best quality files on Finna. Selecting, cataloguing, digitizing and publishing material for PAGODE project would not have been possible without the work and knowledge of Paula Laajalahti, Simo Karisalo, Jaana Onatsu, Terhi Aho and Helena Ojala. Especially Paula did tremendous work mainly voluntarily and spent few years going through over 10,000 images of the FELM collection. Minna Rönkä from the Finna team of the National Library also helped a lot in publishing our PAGODE data set on Europeana
img. glass positive illustration from the collection of photoreportages by Piatus Dionysius Wantz – KADOC-KU Leuven, Belgium – CC BY-SA via Europeana.
KADOC is the interfaculty Documentation and Research Centre on Religion, Culture and Society at KU Leuven. Established in 1976, KADOC is an international centre for the study of the interaction between religion, culture and society in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It preserves and discloses an extensive archival collection and heritage library that emerged from the interplay between religion, culture and society in a Belgian, European and global context. Political and social developments such as the welfare state, civil society, democratization, European integration, and secularization are documented in the collections of political movements, trade unions, NGOs, and religious congregations. Its ‘international’ collections document a wide range of interactions between Europe and the Americas, Asia and Africa as intermediated by political movements, churches, NGOs and individual actors. KADOC stimulates international research by organizing conferences, maintaining relations with European universities and partner institutions, by publishing innovative studies, and by hosting junior and senior researchers from across the world.
Amongst the international collections preserved by KADOC, the material pertaining to China stands out for its diversity and its relation to major historical events. Particularly the archives and libraries of missionary congregations active in various regions in China offer a rich insight into the interaction between China and the West over the course of the long nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Both published and unpublished sources (e.g. schoolbooks, catechisms and correspondences) show how Belgian missionaries, predominantly Scheutists, Franciscans and Jesuits, manifested themselves culturally (e.g. education and catechesis) and physically (e.g. architecture and clothing). Yet, while striving to increase their influence on local communities, missionaries also extensively documented their environment, either through ethnographic observations or through the medium of photography, thereby transmitting a unique panorama of local religious traditions, industries and cultural expressions. A gripping illustration of this documentary zeal is the extensive glass plate collection of the Belgo-Luxembourgian Dionysius Piatus Wantz (1884-1986), a Franciscan missionary who worked in the region of today’s Hubei province from 1904 until 1933. Missionary archives and photographic collections reveal unique information about some major historical events that missionaries were witnesses to. A photo album preserved in the Archive of the North-Belgian Jesuit Province, for example, shows the construction of the Jinghan railway between Beijing and Hankou (Wuhan) between 1899-1902. A photo-album dedicated to the Boxer Rebellion and to the memory of its victims, preserved in the Scheutist archives, offers an unexpected perspective on China’s impactful anti-imperialist resurrection between 1899 and 1901.
KADOC is committed to disclosing and harnessing both analogue and born digital heritage through the online publication of content and metadata. Much emphasis is placed on to the contextualisation and linking of data, in accordance with international standards, preferably as open data and allowing full-text search. KADOC collects born-digital heritage in cooperation with archive creators and commits to digitising analogue collections, either at the request of readers, systematically or project-based. It invests in LIAS, a digital ecosystem for the management, preservation, and provision of digital sources. KADOC publishes its heritage through its own catalogues and through platforms and consortia such as Europeana and Wikidata. It also curates thematic collections and online exhibitions through its own web platform www.kadocheritage.be and its Dutch counterpart www.kadocerfgoed.be. In this way, KADOC aims to bridge the gap between specialists and a wider audience. To ensure that its collection reflects social and technological evolutions, KADOC keeps a finger on the pulse of access trends, invests in incorporating new media, and integrates new technologies in its work processes.
PAGODE – Europeana China is co-financed by the Connecting Europe Facility Programme of the European Union, under GA n. INEA/CEF/ICT/A2019/1931839