‘Digitising Contemporary Art’ (DCA) is a 30-month digitisation project for contemporary art, i.e. art made after 1945 - a kind of cultural heritage still largely missing from Europeana which is a single access point for European culture. 

DCA will create a digital body of high-quality reproductions of 26,921 artworks - paintings, photographs, sculptures, installations, videos and 1,857 contextual documents, which will become accessible and retrievable through Europeana; not only through the use of metadata and thumbnails, but also direct links to large-sized reproductions of each item. DCA will ensure that the rights to all available digital content will be cleared. The content provided, including masterpieces from key artists of most European countries, will fill a gap in Europeana‘s content supply.

The main issues to be addressed within the project are the choice of specifications for digitisation and metadata, so that they may be inter-operational, and finding the appropriate aggregation solution for each institution. The exchange with Europeana  will be the main outcome of the project. And DCA‘s digitisation process will also contribute to the preservation of the artworks.  

The DCA project intends to enhance the online visibility of contemporary art as an essential expression and an invaluable part of European culture, and to stimulate the interest of the general public by introducing a stronger presence of contemporary art to the Europeana portal.

Target users and their needs

Considering the strong interest in contemporary art, DCA‘s content is of relevance to a broad international audience (including students of all ages), not only specialists. The digital reproductions and its metadata are likely to be of particular interest to: 

  • the members of the general public, especially but not exclusively those interested in contemporary art; 

  • other more specialised users: mediators between the general public, the artwork and artist, such as art critics, publishers; users from the educational field, such as teachers, students; users from the research field, such as art historians, philosophers;
    • professionals working in the arts, such as museum workers, guides; artists;
    • users from the broader field of tourism, IT technology, marketing, creative design;
    • collecting institutions (reproductions can be used for research, preservation, publicity, education);
  • Europeana.
DCA will increase access to contemporary art in other environments than just its original settings of museums or galleries. Online display through Europeana and other aggregating portals will enable access to contemporary art for less mobile people, who will be able to enjoy the artworks without physically having to go to a museum.

Different user groups may the DCA project in various ways, but their needs may often be the same: they will all want easy and fast access to trustworthy, high-quality digital reproductions of contemporary artworks – and if they have no commercial intentions, then they will also expect to obtain it free of charge. Anyone will be able to consult the newly created and integral digital content on the Web. In Europeana (and other portals) they will be pointed to the original context of the found items (e.g. the museum‘s website) by a link, in order to consult enhanced visual data and additional information on the actual work. Such links will enrich the Europeana experience, increasing the visibility of the contributing museum‘s website and also encouraging partners to develop (apart from DCA) new web applications, e.g. tools that will allow the user to create their own virtual exhibitions or collections. This will result in a more interesting experience of the institutions‘ contemporary art collections for the public.


Part of the technology for reproduction and display of high-quality digital content is already available in the contributing collecting institutions. For some digitisation, subcontractors will provide external digitisation facilities. The partners will provide databases for metadata and images. DCA will help the institutions to set up or adapt their database in order to comply with their own needs and the state-of-the art of metadata schemes, vocabularies, data exchange, etc. For those institutions that cannot host large video files, DCA will provide for collaboration with the GAMA project. To maximize synergy, DCA will take into account Europeana‘s technical specifications and will identify the most suitable paths for aggregating the new content into Europeana. In cases where content cannot be introduced through existing aggregators, an ingestion platform will be provided (based on the one developed in the ATHENA project). For metadata mapping DCA will build on the tools developed by its partners in other projects. The digital images produced in the context of DCA will become part of the digital collections of each contributing institution. They will care for their long-term sustainability, as they do for their other data and images. DCA itself will provide guidelines and assistance on how to preserve digital files and keep them accessible over a long period of time. The work package on sustainability will be entirely devoted to helping partners create a feasible plan for future preservation of the digital content.


The DCA consortium will provide new content for Europeana: metadata and images of 26,921 artworks and 1,857 contextual documents. It includes masterpieces created within different art disciplines by key artists of most European countries. Some of its best-known artists are: Marina Abramovic, Orla Barry, Christian Boltanski, Marie José Burki, Gusztáv Hámos, IRWIN, Sanja Iveković, Bjorn Melhus, Carsten Nicolai, Dan Perjovschi, Fiona Tan, Blast Theory, Luc Tuymans, Steina Vasulka, Franz West,...The artworks and contextual documents belong to institutions that need support for their digitisation and contribution to Europeana. The 21 collections come from 12 European countries: 17 of which are from countries that are behind in making their heritage accessible through Europeana (10 from Tier 1 and 7 from Tier 2 countries which are lagging in their effort to make their cultural heritage accessible through the European cultural heritage portal.). DCA will contain texts and images, as well as video and sound material – which is underrepresented in Europeana.

Partners of DCA