European discoveries: from the new world to new technologies. Inauguration of one of the exhibitions of the European Digital Treasures project!

After more than two years of hard work, one of three transmedia exhibitions planned in the scope of the European Digital Treasures project will be open in Lisbon under the title European Discoveries: from the new world to new technologies. The event will take place at Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, on 22nd of July 2021.

Nautical chart, Fernão Vaz Dourado

The idea of “discovery” – of exploring the unknown, of finding and trying new things, of creating new objects and artefacts, from innovative to conventional challenges – has been a constant in human and European history.

Over the centuries, its pursuit has united lands and peoples of various European nations in common endeavours. The story of the development of science and technological progress is truly a chapter of international cooperation in the history of Europe.

As the documents in this exhibition so clearly show, discoveries happened in Europe in the most diverse contexts, involving people from many different countries, in all historical periods: from isolated individual ventures to collective and even national undertakings; from the silence and comfort of a library to the controlled chaos of a construction site or a mine; from princely courts to artisans’ workshops. The protagonists and agents of these discoveries were a cross-section of European society. One finds famous intellectuals and anonymous craftsmen; highly skilled academics and almost illiterate sailors; aristocrats and workers, people from all countries and all levels of society.

While some of these documents refer to famous episodes and people who have become famous, others relate to stories that are much less known and almost forgotten. The variety of types of documents in this exhibition also confirms the variety of themes and contexts in which the desire to discover was exercised. One can find letters, books, photographs, X-ray images, drawings, manuscripts, printed leaflets, maps, reports, patent applications and much more, from the early Middle Ages to the 20th century.

Preserving the memory of the world of discoveries and inventions, of scientific progress and technological advances, is to protect one of the most characteristic elements of European identity and heritage.

The exhibition is organised around three pillars:

  • 1 – Medicine
  • 2 – Energy and Industry
  • 3 – Transport and Navigation
Letters, consultations and more works of Alexandre de Gusmão: The aerostatic machine of Father Bartolomeu de Guerreiro
PT/TT/MSLIV/1011

The visitors can interact with:

  • 9 original documents from Torre do Tombo
  • 34 digital reproductions of documents from eight countries distributed by interactive exhibitors
  • 3 documents that allow the visitors to experience augmented reality technology
  • 3 video games
  • 2 videos presenting the project and its merchandising products

The National Archive of Torre do Tombo is a central state archive of national scope. It holds a diverse universe of archival heritage, including original documents from the 9th century to the present day, in a wide variety  of media, fulfilling its main mission to safeguard, enhance and disseminate this heritage.

The building of Torre do Tombo

Torre do Tombo is one of Portugal’s oldest institutions. Since its installation in one of the towers of S. Jorge Castle in Lisbon, in the 14th century, until 1755, it served as the Archives of the king, his vassals, the administration of the kingdom and overseas possessions, also keeping the documents resulting from relations with other kingdoms.

On 1st November 1755, the tower collapsed during an earthquake. The documentation was collected from the rubble and temporarily kept in a wooden hut. On 26th and 27th of August 1757, it was transferred to the São Bento da Saúde Monastery located in the west of the city.

Inside Torre do Tombo


In 1990 the archive was transferred again, this time to a new building, built from scratch to house the National Archive, located on the perimeter of the university city of Lisbon and classified as national heritage since 2012. With a floor area of 54 235m2, it has seven floors, four of which are for storerooms that house 140 linear km of shelving. From around 35 linear km of documentation when it was transferred  to the new building, it has now reached the present day with around 100 linear km.

It is therefore in this magnificent building guarded by its 8 majestic gargoyles that the European Digital Treasures project will take place!

Written by DSIEQ/DGLAB

Merchandise product: Regiment of the declination of the sun

We present another design product inspired by the documents chosen for transmedia exhibitions of the European Digital Treasures project.

Its creators are the designers Diogo Bessa, Mário Fonseca and Ana Catarina Silva, from the Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave.

The source of inspiration for this product was the “Regiment of the declination of the sun which goes in letters that mean the name of Sir Fernão Lopes Martins Freire de Andrade and his daughter Lady Isabel Freire“, whose holder is Torre do Tombo, the National Archive of Portugal. This Portuguese document from 1564 is a type of nautical document, from the age of discoveries, intended to allow the calculation of the vessel’s latitude to its pilots. Thus, they had, for each day of the year, the necessary corrections to compensate for the sun’s declination when measuring their meridian height.

The illuminated capital letters and marbled endpapers of the binding inspired the drawings of the new merchandise product, an écharpe, presented in a transparent envelope, which is 100% recycled material, containing contextual information about the document that inspired it and about the National Archive of Torre do Tombo.

The following video presents the various stages of the creation and development process of this product.

ÉCHARPE, Portugal, Designers Diogo Bessa; Mário Fonseca; Ana Catarina Silva

Written by Mário Sant’Ana, Senior Technician / E-administration and innovation and
Ana Isabel Fernandes (trad.), Senior Technician / Communication Office,
Torre do Tombo National Archive,
General Directorate of Books, Archives and Libraries, Portugal

The Charter of Law of Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1867: a pioneer milestone of European humanism and liberalism

The Charter of Law is included in the first exhibition of the European Digital Treasures project “The Construction of Europe” as one of the records representing the intellectual Heritage of Enlightenment.

Portugal was one of the pioneering countries with a law to abolish the Death Penalty for civil crimes. The law was approved by the Portuguese Parliament and published on July 1st, 1867.

Charter of Law approving the penal and prison reform, with the abolition of the death penalty, 26-06-1867 / 01-07-1867, Lisbon (Portugal) 12 folio sheet containing 3 records, manuscript on paper; 40 x 25,5 x 0,4 cm National Archive of Torre do Tombo Ref Code: PT/TT/LO/003/31/64,
National Archive of Torre do Tombo.

How had this issue been discussed in the early times of European abolitionism in the 18th and 19th century?
It was a time when philosophers, jurists, poets, writers, publicists and some state rulers discussed and implemented, with advances and retreats, penal reforms with more efficient laws against criminality, but also more respectful for human dignity: cruel and corporal punishments, executions exuberantly carried out in public became less common.
Cesare Beccaria, a philosopher and jurist of Milan, published, in 1764, his famous and influential criminology essay “On Crimes and Punishments”. He proposed some of the first modern arguments against the Death Penalty. He was deeply opposed to the capital punishment, which was rare for a time where this sanction was an acceptable response for many crimes. He openly condemned the Death Penalty and argued: the state does not possess the right to take lives; the Death Penalty is a crime legitimated by law; capital punishment is neither a useful nor a necessary form of punishment.

In the mid of the 19th century, Europe saw a new wave of abolitionism. In 1848 the Death Penalty was abolished in San Marino, Freiburg and Neufchatel. In France, Victor Hugo launched a vigorous campaign which contributed to the abolition of the Death Penalty for political crimes in 1848.

Victor Hugo, the French novelist and a fervent abolitionist celebrated the pioneers of the abolition of the Death Penalty in Portugal as an achievement and hope for the European abolitionist movement.
He writes, on the 2nd July, 1867, to Eduardo Coelho, director of the newspaper ”Jornal de Notícias”:

   (…). I congratulate your parliament, your thinkers, your writers and your philosophers! I congratulate your nation. Portugal gives the example to Europe. Enjoy this immense glory beforehand. Europe will follow Portugal. Death to death! War to war! Hate to hate! Hurray to life! Liberty is an immense city, of which we’re all citizens. I shake your hands as my compatriots of humanity.”

European Heritage Label,
National Archive of Torre do Tombo.

As part of its commitment to defending Human Rights, the EU is the largest donor in the fight against Death Penalty worldwide. All EU countries have abolished the Death Penalty in line with the European Convention on Human Rights. All over the world the death penalty seems to decline. Although over 60% of the world’s population live in countries where the Death Penalty continues to exist.

As European citizens we also have the chance to look at this past as a springboard to the future of Human Rights in Europe and in the world.
As an important milestone in the promotion of European Values of Citizenship, with special focus on Human Rights, the Charter of Law was awarded the European Heritage Label, in 2015. The record is accessible in six EU languages.

Written by Maria Trindade Serralheiro, Senior Technician / Information, Statistics and Quality Systems, General Directorate of Books, Archives and Libraries, Portugal
Ana Isabel Fernandes (trad.), Senior Technician / Communication Office, Torre do Tombo National Archive, General Directorate of Books, Archives and Libraries, Portugal

Opening of the exhibition “The Construction of Europe” at the Archive of the Crown of Aragon (Spain)

After more than two years of work in the preparation of the three transmedia exhibitions included in the European Digital Treasures project, yesterday, 29th of June, the first one, The Construction of Europe – History, Memory and Myth of Europeanness over 1000 Years, was successfully opened at the Archive of the Crown of Aragon (Spain).

This exhibition is the outcome of the European cooperation, a clear example of the combination of the capacities, heritage, diversity, value, and inspiration of all those who have made this project possible.

The narratives displayed here combine different technological tools that allow us to get to know our written past through multiple channels. Visitors can interact with: 8 original documents from 4 different archives, 20 facsimiles from 7 countries, 22 digital reproductions of documents from 6 countries, displayed in interactive booths, 1 quiz game for people who love challenges, 1 memory matching game to encourage observation, 1 infinite running game to reward speed by catching archival documents, 1 interactive RPG game to learn how to work on an archive, 4 augmented reality experiences to explore parallel worlds and videos presenting the project and its merchandising products!

During yesterday’s morning, there was a presentation for the media and, later, after the opening ceremony, a representative of the National Archives of Hungary, Zoltán Szatucsek, responsible for curating the exhibition, did a guided tour for the guests.

The opening was chaired by María Dolores Jiménez-Blanco, general director of Fine Arts of the Ministry of Culture and Sports of Spain; by Silvestre Lacerda, general director of the Book, Archives and Libraries of Portugal on behalf of the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the European Union; and by María Oliván, head of the Transparency, Document Management & Access to Documents Unit of the European Commission. It was also attended by the members of the ‘European Digital Treasures’ project from the National Archives of Norway, Hungary and Malta and a representation of the Spanish State Archives, led by Severiano Hernández, deputy director of the Spanish State Archives.

Additionally, the Archive of the Crown of Aragon also hosted a semi-virtual meeting of the European Archives Group (EAG). The first meeting of this group since 2019.

The exhibition can be visited until October 29th, 2021 in Spain, with capacity restrictions and hygiene and safety measures established by health authorities to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Practical information: http://www.culturaydeporte.gob.es/archivos-aca/destacados/expo-digital-treasures.html

Written by Spanish State Archives

Transmedia Products

Interview with Paul Keneally, MTU

In this post we will be speaking with Paul Kenneally, from Munster Technological University (MTU), on the fantastic work he has been doing on the Digital Treasures project. In particular the interview will focus on the transmedia products he and the team have been working on developing. 

Interviewer: Hi Paul, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today on the transmedia products being developed for the digital treasures project. We know you are busy working on completing a lot of this work so we won’t keep you long.

Paul: No problem, thanks for asking me to do this. It is great to share the work we are doing.

Interviewer: Great, so first off for those not familiar with transmedia, what is it?

Paul: Yeah, so transmedia in general constitutes the mixture of using a bunch of different types of media so conventional video, graphic design, animation, some web design, and as well as some new contemporary technologies, like, augmented reality, and games. So taking that then just to create mixed disciplinary outputs that are, some again like I said are conventional in design and the way they are made, and then some are a little bit more cutting edge, for example the augmented reality.

Interviewer: Okay, so to follow that. What transmedia has been created for this project?

Paul: Yeah. So for this project, we created several transmedia products. Again, that cross disciplines, like Game Design, Augmented Reality, Video and Animation, and then as well, just combining all those, and mixing them together. So, by doing that, some of our most notable transmedia products include the use of augmented reality being embedded into old archival documents. So, that’s documents that are anywhere from decades to hundreds of years old, that have been enhanced with some sort of an animation. 

AR example

And then that’s been applied down to a third-party app that runs an AR event. So that’s how augmented reality works. Some other ones then include the use of touchscreen games. So things like matching pair quizzes, general knowledge quizzes and infinite runners is another one. Those are going to be used on touchscreens, like kiosks that will be a part of modular furniture that’s going to be at the exhibition. 

Touchscreen Kiosk

So, these screens support 10 Point touch, which is really important because it invites multiple people to interact and play it together at a time. So introducing things like competitive aspects, and as well to make sure that the players or the museum, visitors, achieve a state of flow, when they’re playing the games, so nothing obstructs them, their experience or their general enjoyment of the experience. 

Interviewer: Just on the state of flow Paul, what do you mean by this?

Paul: State of flow, is a channel that’s in between, boredom, and kind of like overbearing challenge. It’s a concept proposed by a Hungarian-American psychologist called Mihály Csíkszentmihályi and this refers to a level of optimum performance and concentration. For games, this also includes levels of fun and the desire to retry the games multiple times. Another example of this would entail really long amounts of time passing the player by without them even noticing.

Interviewer: Perfect, thank you. So how are people going to interact with these transmedia products and what will they do with them?

Paul: Yeah, so if people get a chance to go to the exhibitions, there are multiple ways, depending on what transmedia product they want to interact with. So for the touchscreen games, they just need to interact with the touchscreen kiosks and follow the instructions that are set on those screens. For augmented reality, visitors can scan each document’s respective AR trigger or AR tag to activate the AR event on the document so that will allow you then to view animated elements around the document. Other products that will be at the exhibition as well, will be things like touchscreen catalogues which again will use the same technology, they are operated the same as you operate your tablet device by using swiping gestures.

Interviewer: To put you on the spot, what was your favourite one to develop?

Paul: I actually had two favourite transmedia products for this project. The first one was the RPG (role-playing game) game. It’s been a once in a lifetime type of experience where I could make a game from start to finish, from being involved in things like the design and ideation of the script with the archivists who acted as subject matter experts to the technical execution of the game. So I’m very happy, and really lucky to have had an opportunity to do that. 

RPG Level 1

And then the second one, is actually the augmented reality itself. It’s really cool when you can take documents that are hundreds of years old, and embed this invisible extra layer of interactivity and experience this using either a tablet device or smartphone. So that’s really exciting stuff and I hope more of that gets done in the future.

Interviewer: Final question for you, if people only got the opportunity to play or interact with only one of these transmedia products. Which one of them would you definitely play yourself?

Paul: Oh, that’s a hard one. If you don’t have the opportunity to go to the exhibition, I highly recommend playing the RPG game. And given the current circumstances with COVID-19 and social distancing and all that, it’s very possible that this might be an occurrence. For anybody who is fortunate enough to go to these exhibitions, being safe and following all precautions of course, it will definitely be augmented reality. So instructions on how to install the app called Artivive will be at the exhibitions, as well as tablet devices will be there if people feel a little bit more comfortable with using devices supplied on-site.

Interviewer: Great, thanks for your time Paul and we all look forward to seeing the final product either online or in person at the exhibitions.

Interview by Niall Fahy, MTU

The EDT-Exhibition Welcome Video

Starting from the end of June 2021 in Barcelona the three transmedia exhibitions start all over Europe and will last till October 2022. The basic idea of the project team was to welcome visitors to the individual exhibitions by means of a short video clip and to present and summarise the exhibition concept as it were in a nutshell. This video will greet visitors during the exhibitions on TV screens mounted overhead and, as it were, convey a first impression.

On the one hand, the participating institutions are presented, which make the exhibited documents available; on the other hand, a selection of documents that is as diverse as possible symbolises each individual thematic focus of the exhibition (The Making of Europe – Exile, Migration Flows and Solidarity – European Inventions and Discoveries). Each participating institution is represented by three documents, with each document explained with a short title and dating. In addition, the welcome video also provides an overview of the timetable of the exhibitions in the different countries.

To meet the needs of local visitors, no less than seven language versions of the video have been produced, namely in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Norwegian, Maltese, Hungarian and German.

In addition to the above-mentioned area of application, it is also planned to use this video, accompanied by a background melody, as a general presentation medium for the EDT project, a kind of business card for the project.

Written by Dr. Karl HEINZ, MAS,
Science & Strategy
ICARUS – International Centre for Archival Research

Crowdsourcing – Bringing together archives and their users

The international consortium of the European Digital Treasures project planned a number of events between 2020 and 2022. However, due to the pandemic situation, these events, such as the opening of transmission exhibitions, international workshops, national tenders and related camps, as well as the Crowdsourcing event, have been postponed. As the opening of the exhibitions, the organization of these community events is only due from mid 2021, in line with the COVID crisis.

The project’s Crowdsourcing activity (Activity 21) deserves special attention because it paves the way for what is unique in each of the participating countries in the project.

What is Crowdsourcing?  

National Archives of Hungary, Lantos Zsuzsanna photography

It is an activity that involves community force in a professional activity, in which very meticulous tasks that require a lot of extra labour and working hours are divided into small details and distributed among many contributors. Crowdsourcing can be financial (crowd founding) or related to software testing (crowd testing). However, in the case of archives, the involvement of community force helps to monitor and, where necessary, improve the results of handwriting recognition by the Artificial Intelligence and transcription automation used as part of the European Digital Treasures project.

A basic knowledge of archival research and a basic knowledge of palaeography is essential for those involved in this community activity. The project aims to specifically motivate seniors for the activity. Crowdsourcing is a pilot program within the European Digital Treasures project that aims to involve 20 participants per partner institution in the correction work.

In preparation for the Crowdsourcing event, the archival partners selected a collection of documents from their holdings that were created in a well-defined period. These documents are highly readable and show strong research interest.

The Torre do Tombo National Archives of Portugal selected the General Register of Mercies, the National Archives of Norway chose the Oslo Register Cards written before the First World War, the National Archives of Malta selected an immigration register from 1905-1966, the Spanish State Archives picked the passport record books from the Spanish Consulate in Buenos Aires from the 1930s, and the National Archives of Hungary selected the National Census from 1828.

The records are transcribed by the Valencian TranScriptorium company’s software using machine handwriting recognition and automated text transcription.

The software is still being tested, and the archivists of the partner institutions, together with the Valencian software manufacturer, are optimizing the maximization of its efficiency, so with as little human effort as possible should be involved in order to improve the transcription results.

The selected collections, due to their extent, will still offer plenty of opportunities from the second half of the year to improve the automated transcripts of them by community work.

With this step, the archives will pave the way for a future which on one hand, brings the intersections of the digital world and the paper-based analogue world close to each other, and on the other hand, opens up a seemingly closed scientific sphere to archive users by involving them in a portion of archival work.

Written by Dorottya Szabó Senior Archivist and
Anna Palcsó Public Education Officer,
National Archives of Hungary

The Construction of Europe: The first exhibition of the European Digital Treasures project to be opened

After more than two years of work in the preparation of the three transmedia exhibitions included in the European Digital Treasures project, we are approaching the opening of the first of them, The construction of Europe – History, Memory and Myth of Europeanness over 1000 Years, that will take place next June 29th 2021 at the Archive of the Crown of Aragon (Spain).

Works of Seneca, 14th century. Archive of the Crown of Aragon (Spain)

This exhibition tells the story of Europe along with its construction as a concept, which has changed over time. Created and shaped by the people who lived there, it also provides a collective identity for its inhabitants.

The exhibition, built on 50 documents grouped into 4 ‘pillars’, examines the common history of Europe under the following headings:

1: The Spirit of Europe.
2: The Diversity of Europe.
3: The Multiple Faces of Christianity.
4: The Heritage of Enlightenment.

Different transmedia interactive products have been created (4 videogames, 1 edutainment app, digital catalogues, augmented reality technology) to tell the stories of our shared past to the public – to young and old, to history enthusiasts and expert historians, to unexpected and anticipated user communities of archives.

Viceroys’ Palace. Archive of the Crown of Aragon (Spain)

It is very significant that the venue of this first exhibition regarding the construction of Europe is the Archive of the Crown of Aragon, which is one of the oldest archival institutions in Europe and considered to hold one of the largest and most valuable document collections of medieval Europe. In March 2015 it was awarded the European Heritage Label by the European Commission due to the role it has played in the history and culture of Europe. This distinction is only held by 48 institutions throughout Europe.

The Archive of the Crown of Aragon is a state-owned archive that is managed directly by the Ministry of Culture and Sport of Spain and it brings together more than seven centuries of history between its walls.

The purpose of the Archive of the Crown of Aragon is to safeguard, preserve, organise and divulge the documentation which, proceeding from different institutions, has been building up in its repositories over seven centuries and now belongs to the Spanish Historical Heritage.

Viceroys’ Palace. Archive of the Crown of Aragon (Spain)

The Archives of the Crown of Aragon contain documents of the Counts of Barcelona and the Kings of Aragon dating from the 9th to the 18th century as well as other documents from various civil and ecclesiastic bodies. The Archive was created by a royal decision of Jaime II of Aragon in 1318 in the premises of the Royal Palace, situated in Plaza del Rey.

Since 1853 the Palace of the Viceroy has been the headquarters of the Archive of the Crown of Aragon. It was built between 1549 and 1557 by master Antoni Carbonell, and it is listed in the Historical and Artistic Buildings Index of Barcelona, and as a National Monument. Its origins lie in a decree of the Cortes held by Emperor Carlos V at Monzón in 1547 creating this extension to the Palacio Real Mayor as the seat of the Viceroy of Catalonia.

Viceroys’ Palace. Archive of the Crown of Aragon (Spain)

The Palace of the Viceroy was restored in 2006 and since it reopened after renovation works in January 2007, it has been used for teaching, specialist research and educational activities, with guided visits to the historic areas and the temporary exhibition room, where the history of the Archive and its collections are explained. It also has a Teaching Room for workshops and training courses and a Conference Room with seating for 120 people.

Text: Spanish State Archives

New audiences for archives – the Archival Literacy Online Course addressing teachers and students

One of the primary objectives of the European Digital Treasures project is to address new audiences and introduce them to the world of archives. Engaging young people plays a vital role in it and will be achieved with various project activities. The focus lies on offering a low threshold and adventurous entry point into the world of archives, using narrative techniques (“story telling”) that are based on the historical data of the archival documents.

Archival Literacy Online Course

As one of the major parts regarding a young audience, the Archival Literacy Online Course has been developed to assist teachers in introducing students of grade 9 and higher to the world of archives.

This course offers a sustainable and attractive tool linked to young user education on how to use archives, teaching students how to conduct research within the archival holdings, through traditional lectures and presentations at schools and integrate the possibilities offered by archives, mostly in Humanities, specifically in areas like history, arts, and geography.

The Archival Literacy Online Course is available in English and Spanish.

The course has been organised around three key modules:

  • Module 1: Archives – an introduction
  • Module 2: The archive of anyone, an archive for anyone
  • Module 3: Teaching with primary sources
Archival Literacy Online Course

The Archival Literacy Online Course presents the relevant information in an attractive way tailored to the target group of young students. Step by step, the course content is presented, with a knowledge check where the students answer questions based on the section they have just read.

By the end of module 1, the students will understand what an archive is, they will be able to explore the qualities archives need to have, understand the evolution of the archives, and appreciate the importance of archival literacy as well as the value of archives to society.

Module 2 – The archive of anyone, an archive for everyone teaches the students how to identify the key records about different periods and activities in their life, shows them how to differentiate between legal and formal information and also tells them about their rights in relation to those records.

Module 3 – Teaching with primary source offers resources that teachers might find helpful in their teaching practice. The resources are organised in three thematic sections with a high level of relevance today, namely Pandemics and Epidemics, Economic Crises and Migration.

Introductory videos to these modules are available online:

On May 6, 2021, the Digital Treasures project partners will present the Archival Literacy Online Course in a webinar. Click here for details on the agenda and the registration form.

The impact of COVID-19 on the Digital Treasures exhibitions

The archival treasures, documents and records kept by the archives around the world lie in their peaceful places in their cases, boxes or folders in those never-ending mysterious storage rooms. Our exhibitions mean that the history itself is brought to life. When an exhibition is set up, the archival records are being carefully digitised or taken out and are prepared by professional restorers to be displayed to the public. In presenting these records for cultural, educational purposes – some of them being many hundred years old – the exhibitions play a particularly important role.

Heritage of a Nation – Landmarks of Hungarian History exhibition opening in August 2020, Budapest, Hungary. Credits: Zsuzsanna Lantos, National Archives of Hungary

When we think about the recently erupted epidemic, it is hard to miss its impact on the cultural sector. Last year new exhibitions were planned and opened just to be closed right after opening and it has been a new experience for all of us to cope with the challenges that have been triggered by COVID-19. The pandemic has disrupted traditional working practices in the sector, making the digital transformation of cultural heritage institutions more important than ever. However, these challenges resulted in many positive changes that might have been delayed if the pressure of digitisation had not come in waves. The digital strategies have drastically changed and we had to keep focus on what is important.

The main aim of the exhibitions is to make the archival material available to the citizens of the world, families, students, travellers, art enthusiasts, pensioners and so on, to help them get closer to their roots, their history and cultural heritage. These records are the base of every nation’s history involved and should be made available for everyone who is curious enough to observe and understand them. Though our physical exhibitions remained closed, the digital world has opened new windows in exhibition planning. Some of the main challenges were preparing teams for working with digital technologies, a budget, preparing factors for choosing a direction for further activities and through it all, most importantly keeping good health in the focus. Virtual exhibitions have emerged, the digitisation of archival records has accelerated, archival educational material was prepared for the online classes. Social media became the main event space for openings, virtual book launch events and workshops. Our digital content has grown rapidly and as a result, our institutions became more transparent and accessible to the public.

In the framework of the European Digital Treasures project, three exhibitions are being prepared. The archival digitisation processes in the partner countries have worked effectively, but COVID-19 has caused some serious impacts on the exhibition’s physical openings in some countries. The crisis has directly implied the delay in the opening of the exhibitions; the first exhibition of the project is ‘The Construction of Europe’, it will finally open in late June, 2021 at the Archives of the Crown of Aragon, Spain and will be the first exhibition to start the series of exhibitions of the European Digital Treasures project.

All measures considered, the archives have adapted their facilities to guarantee the protection of both workers and citizens who access them. All institutes are currently working on a plan that will allow the safest way of engaging in exhibitions after reopening.

Author: Anna Palcsó, Public Education Officer, National Archives of Hungary