Ghent citizens will co-create new archive of cultural heritage


A project in which residents of Ghent tell their own stories to pass on to the future has won nearly €5 million in funding from EU

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A project to build a digital collection of the shared cultural heritage of Ghent’s citizens has been given nearly €5 million by the European Union. Once complete, the Gentenaar Collection will have a permanent home in the city’s Design Museum.

The first phase of the project will build a digital archive of Ghent’s cultural heritage, which will then be presented in three different neighbourhoods, representing the diversity of the city. Locals will be invited to browse this archive, comment on it and add objects or stories of their own.

As well as its cultural side, the project will require new technological strategies to support interaction with the digital collection and co-creation of new narratives. “With this project, and the technical innovation that goes with it, we are taking another step in realising our ambition of becoming a technological and cultural capital of Europe,” said Ghent mayor Mathias De Clercq.

The project is intended to bring together the city’s museums, cultural institutions and creative sector, in particular challenging the museums to be active outside their walls.

Urban Innovative Actions

“In the short term, the Gentenaar Collection is a major step forward in the digitisation and accessibility of our heritage collections and of the Ghent Archives,” explained Sami Souguir, city councillor responsible for culture. “In the longer term, the intention is that the project will also lay the foundations for a platform to which all heritage players can connect.”

The project has a total budget of nearly €6 million, of which €4.8 million will come from the European Union’s Urban Innovative Actions initiative. It was one of just 11 projects selected for funding in the latest round, unveiled this week.

Also successful was the Cairgo Bike project in the Brussels-Capital Region. This aims to encourage individuals and companies to use cargo bikes in the city, reducing air pollution and noise, and increasing sustainability.

The project will provide incentives to buy, rent or share cargo bikes, and improve infrastructure, for example by providing more parking spaces. Academic support for the project will come from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB).

Photo: The Gentenaar Collection will be housed in the future new wing of the city’s Design Museum
©TRANS, Carmody Groarke en RE-ST