“I did not write half of what I saw, for I knew I would not be believed.”
Europeana’s Chinese Heritage feature, populated and co-curated by the PAGODE project, greatly increases the discoverability of Chinese heritage in the Europeana platform and allows for serendipitous browsing and discovery at its best. It puts newly ingested high-value collections on Chinese culture sharply into focus, and promotes user engagement and re-use of this content by enticing those who come across it.
Through this work, the PAGODE project has been exemplary in furthering the diversity of Europeana’s collections and its editorial, leading the way towards a more diverse and inclusive cultural heritage sector.
Europeana showcases beautiful content and novel narratives of Chinese heritage in Europe on a dedicated feature page, a digital foyer meant to collect and promote all editorial pieces that were created throughout the PAGODE project, as well as editorial delivered in other projects and seasons that touch on Chinese heritage concepts.
The Chinese Heritage feature page shows the breadth of stories that have been told through the PAGODE project and beyond. There is, of course, a focus on political aspects throughout history: the story of Empress Cixi, the last empress of the Chinese empire, is beautifully told with historical photographs and other imagery illustrating the narrative. Chinese cultural influence in its broadest sense is also explored: from the acculturation of tastes for ceramics and furniture in the Chinoiseries style to the impact of the Chinese Junk as a boat design on worldwide trade and travel.
Specific collections, some of them newly ingested into Europeana or updated by cultural heritage institutions as part of the PAGODE project, are given special attention due to their quality of content, historical significance, or aesthetic exceptionalism. Pioneers of photography such as John Thomson, Osvald Sirén and Wolfgang Schröter all have collections of photographs of East Asia that are featured in Europeana’s Chinese Heritage space, as is the artefact collection of Ernest Erickson.
Even more captivating than the highlights of the individual collections are the digital galleries that reshape narratives around Chinese cultural concepts by aggregating cultural heritage objects from the heterogeneous collections of various cultural heritage institutions. A gallery depicting Chinese parasols, for instance, connects cultural heritage objects from across 12 institutions from 8 countries across Europe: Sweden, Serbia, the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, Finland, Austria, and France. The same transnational connection between cultural heritage objects can be found in all the Chinese Heritage galleries. A few more examples include Fruits from China, the Chinese dragon, and Jewelry with a Chinese twist.