ESD is an organic unit of the IPCA, a public institution of higher education founded in 1994, located in the northern region of Portugal. As part of its mission to contribute to the development of society through innovative training, cultural creation, applied research and investigation, the European Digital Treasures project presented itself as an opportunity to explore new methodologies and regional and international synergies.
The team responsible for the project included a graphic designer with a master’s degree in illustration and animation, an industrial designer, responsible technician of a product design laboratory and a project manager, a teacher and researcher in the areas of communication design, typography and publishing. These different skills allowed solutions that not only responded to the initial brief but also complemented it with communication outputs (such as packaging and promotion videos) that helped to explain, demonstrate and advertise the merchandising products designed.
Here is the catalogue of all the products created under the project.
The first stage of this journey involved a week-long artistic residency in Madrid, from 17 to 21 January 2020. During that week, the teams of designers from all the project partners met, worked and shared experiences. There were moments of contact with professionals in the areas of design, communication, management and distribution of products related to museums and cultural institutions. Workshops were developed in which work methodologies, future scenarios and prototypes were discussed. The contact with designers from other countries allowed not only for better awareness of the brief, considering that the heritage and cultural value of many archives were reflected upon, but also for the exchange of experiences and expertise in varied areas. These included graphic design, product design, jewellery and marketing. There were also some field visits to cultural institutions of worldwide reference, which allowed an observation of the spaces and organisation of the merchandising shops and direct contact with some products. Furthermore, these were moments that enriched the experience of the week, due to the opportunity created to visit some of the best art collections in the world. After this important moment, which leveraged the steps of previous research and problem definition, we moved on to the ideation and prototyping phases.
From a selection of historical archives, seven prototypes of innovative merchandising products were developed: a botanical specimen jar with five artisanal soaps; two écharpes; two ceramic brooches, a ceramic cutting and serving board and a DIY mobile. Take a look at the videos.
All prototypes were thoroughly studied, tested and presented in multiple contexts, national and international. With an iterative, multidisciplinary and multicultural process we sought not only to contribute to greater recognition of our past treasures but also to open the door to future projects that help communicate the value and mission of the Portuguese Archives.
Ana Catarina Silva, Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave (IPCA).
As an effective result of one of the activities within the scope of the Eurpean Digital Treasures Project – New Business Models for European Archives in the XXI Century-, the General Directorate for Books, Archives and Libraries inaugurated, on 22nd of September 2022, the DGLAB virtual store, developed based on a modern and functional e-commerce platform.
On September 2nd, 2022, the opening of the third part of the exhibition series of the EU project European Digital Treasures took place at the Museum am Dom in St. Pölten, Austria. After the questioning of the “becoming of Europe” in the first part and the thematic complex of migration, exile and solidarity in the second part, the third part is now dedicated to the broad field of “European discoveries and inventions”.
The ceremonial opening, which this time took place in the very well-filled summer refectory, was first introduced by the museum director Barbara Taubinger with her welcoming speech, followed by the head of the school district Benedikt Michal and the member of the state parliament Martin Michalitsch, who formulated his thoughts on the topic on behalf of the head of the state government. As a crowning finale, the exhibition was ceremoniously opened by Diocesan Bishop Alois Schwarz and the guests had the opportunity to view the exhibition in the museum premises.
Anabela Ribeiro and Olinda Cardoso, Portuguese partners of the Digital Treasures project were present at the opening and demonstrated the international friendships created within the project! Thanks for being there!
The show will be on display for two months until the end of October and uses primary sources from eight major European archives to convey the various aspects of the topic. The very broad field has been divided into the content areas of “Medicine”, “Energy and Industry” and “Transportation and Navigation” which can also be explored within the framework of guided tours.
European Digital Treasures – The Construction of Europe – exhibition opening at Várkert Bazár
The opening of the unique transmedia exhibition, which presents the history of Europe through unique documents from six European countries using digital tools, attracted many visitors! The opening of the exhibition “The Construction of Europe – History, Memory and the Myth of Europeanness” took place on 30th of August 2022 at Várkert Bazár.
In his opening speech, Gábor Kőrösi, Director of Communications and Marketing of Várkapitányság Zrt., expressed his delight that the renovated Várkert Bazár, which was part of the National Hauszmann Program, boasts an ever-growing number of visitors and an increasing number of returning exhibitors. Among these partners is the National Archives of Hungary, which has also chosen the imposing Buda Castle as the venue for its third exhibition.
Zoltán Szatucsek, Director of the Department of IT and Innovation of the National Archives of Hungary, said in his welcome speech that the exhibition presented 54 documents in different formats: originals, copies, installations, as part of the digital catalogue or through games. The 54 documents – 54 coloured tiles from the past, which came together to form breathtaking, colourful, kaleidoscopic shapes for the visitors of the exhibition, the Director added.
Introducing the exhibition, Senior Archivist Dr György Majtényi, curator of the exhibition, pointed out that the main aim was to create a horizon through the unique documents of six European nations, from which our history can be seen as a common history for all Europeans. The curator also explained that the documents in the exhibition have been collected by archivists from European countries, and arranged side by side according to four possible perspectives – the spirit of Europe, its diversity, European Christianity and the legacy of the Enlightenment. The selected documents reflect this and, through it, the history of Europe, and offer visitors to the opportunity to form their own view of the history of Europe and of Europeanness.
The exhibition will be open from 1st of September to 30th of October 2022 at Várkert Bazár, every week from Thursday to Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00.
Learn more about the exhibitions and check out the material especially created for the exhibitions!
“Plan of a machine to raise fresh water from the river to the Alcázar of Toledo and supply the city” is one of the Spanish contributions to the third transmedia exhibition of the Project European Digital Treasures, “European Discoveries – From the New World to New Technologies”, held by the General Archive of the Indies (Seville, Spain) from April 29th 2022 to July 29th 2022.
Water management has a long tradition in Spain. With long, hot, dry summers, and areas where water is scarce, an efficient and rational use of water has always been a serious issue for the various peoples that inhabited the Iberian Peninsula. As a result, complex irrigation schemes and sophisticated water management machines were installed in many parts of the Peninsula throughout the centuries.
This document shows the design of a machine to raise water from the river Tagus (Tajo in Spanish) to the Alcázar of Toledo to supply the city with fresh water. It was designed by Giovanni Turriano (circa 1505-1585), known in Spain as Juanelo Turriano, an engineer and technical advisor to King Charles I.
The drawing was made in 1561, but construction of the invention seems to have been delayed until around 1565. The first engine he built was a success; it was working at full capacity by 1568. Despite some legal disputes, Turriano was commissioned to build a second one, which went into operation in 1581. Both mechanisms, known as Artificio de Juanelo, were considered engineering wonders at the time, and efficiently solved most of Toledo’s water problems.
The machines were in operation until 1639. By then, lack of maintenance and thefts rendered them inoperative. They were disassembled and abandoned.
Having in mind this 16th century invention, the Spanish designer Ángel Merlo created this glass bottle: a merchandising product for domestic or sport use for bringing water or drink easily.
You can find more info about the archival document and the product here:
‘Máquina Hydroándrica o vestidura para cubrirse un hombre dentro del agua’, a ‘Hydro Andric machine or garment to cover a man inside water’ is one of the Spanish contributions to the third transmedia exhibition of the Project European Digital Treasures, “From the New World to New Technologies”, held by the General Archive of the Indies (Seville, Spain) from April 29th 2022 to July 29th 2022.
Underwater exploration has a very long history. Freediving took place since early antiquity in the Mediterranean Sea and in many other regions and seas around the world. Pearl fishing was an economic activity developed by the Spaniards in America since the 16th century and an important source of income for the Royal Treasury. It was done by indigenous divers, and later by Africans.
The idea of using a contraption such as a diving bell to allow someone to remain underwater for extended periods has been with us for a long time. The limitations of these devices were well known: the methods used to provide air to the diver were very primitive and frequently led to fatalities.
In the 18th century, different models of diving suits with breathing systems were developed to achieve a greater permanence of the diver under water. One of those is shown here: a project for an underwater garment that was presented in 1720 in Spain. Actually, as the document explains, only the external layer is presented here, to be used over the whole body armour, with hood and iron breeches. Concept and fabrication are attributed to Alexander Durand.
This interesting document has inspired the Spanish designer Ángel Merlo to create an inventive merchandising product: a personalized waterproof cover for backpacks.
You can find more info about the record and the designer here: ‘Máquina Hydroándrica o vestidura para cubrirse un hombre dentro del agua’ (ES.41091.AGI//MP-INGENIOS,248) on PARES or Archives Portal Europe
This day has a special significance in the cultural life of Hungary, as it is the day when Hungarians celebrate the Day of Hungarian Culture, in memory of the day Ferenc Kölcsey revised his manuscript of the Hungarian National Anthem in 1823. However, on this day of remembrance, the National Archives of Hungary wanted to commemorate not only Hungarian cultural values, but also the common European values, historical and ideological experiences that link Hungary with other European countries.
European Discoveries: from the New World to New Technologies is a digital exhibition dedicated to the latter, which presents European discoveries in three pillars, covering medical science, industrial achievements and transport and traffic, preserved in the archives of Malta, Montenegro, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Serbia and Hungary, through documents of historical value.
In addition to the printed panels, the 43 manuscripts and records presented in the exhibition can also be seen in a digital catalogue, according to the unified project concept. The National Archives of Hungary presents some original archival material on the exhibition site as well. Visitors of the exhibition space can also see some designer products inspired by the documents – with a separate description of the source of inspiration – and play an RPG game and quiz based on the documents presented in the project, in the dedicated game space.
The European Discoveries exhibition at the Castle Garden is attracting a lot of interest. In addition to the digital descriptions, visitors can browse through the exhibition with a handy English and Hungarian catalogue to learn more about the documents on display.
The multilingual nature of the exhibition helps our visitors from abroad to learn more about the European archival material. Our exhibition venue is one of the best exhibition spaces of the Castle Garden. The highly equipped hall and its digital facilities provide a suitable place for all visitors to access and explore digital content.
The first exhibitions actuality – European Discoveries – is attracting many group visits; we are getting high engagement in the requests from schools, universities and other institutions.
Our professional Public Education team offers guided tours at the exhibition site as well, for registration please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
The exhibition is open until the end of April 2022, at the beautiful site at the foot of Buda Castle.
Written by Szabó Dorottya, Archivist, National Archives of Hungary and Palcsó Anna, Public Education Officer, National Archives of Hungary
With the objective of evaluating the impact of the exhibition “European Discoveries: from the New World to the New Technologies”, which took place in Lisbon, at Torre do Tombo National Archive (ANTT), from July 22 to October 30, with the Portuguese public, the information collected in the scope of the guided tours carried out by ANTT was used. The limitations resulting from the pandemic affected the number of visitors, reducing the impact of an event with these characteristics. In the current year 2021, the total volume of visitors to ANTT, compared to the same pre-pandemic period, dropped by 35%. Nevertheless, between September and October 2021, it was possible to carry out a total of 13 guided tours to groups, involving 125 visitors, broken down as follows:
• 4 groups from secondary education (15-17 years): 49 visitors;
• 6 higher education groups (17-25 years): 58 visitors;
• 3 groups of other visitors (over 45 years old): 18 visitors.
The exhibition was also seen by 730 individual visitors, 13 of whom shared comments in the “Visitors’ book”. Among the latter, there are two professors and an archivist from Brazilian Universities.
Having characterized the universe of visitors, there is nothing better than listening to the testimony of the person responsible for conducting the visits, Maria Trindade Serralheiro, ANTT-DSIEQ technician.
Interviewer: Generally speaking, and from the point of view of visitors, what are the advantages of conducting guided tours of this type of exhibition?
Maria: The great advantage lies in the fact that the information transmitted can be directed to different audience profiles, allowing the visitor to enjoy mediation that meets their cultural interests, their knowledge or even their perceptions of matters related to the exhibited documents. As an example, visits aimed at groups of students can be more directed towards a specific curricular content, pre-established when scheduling the visit with the responsible teacher. In this specific case, it could focus on knowledge of primary sources and themes such as bioethics, human rights, public health, European citizenship, etc.
This is an innovative exhibition, given that it is a collaborative production carried out by European archives, whose thematic scope should be highlighted by the mediator, as it can contribute to reinforcing the awareness of identity belonging, both national and European. The archival documentation, properly framed, referring to different times and spaces, can contribute to sustain the affirmation of a shared memory.
Interviewer: Given the visits made to previous exhibitions, did this one stand out?
Maria: Yes, the visits stood out for their access to a great diversity and types of documents, only possible in a collaborative protection such as “European Digital Treasures”. In addition, alignment with the curricular programs at different levels of education was not only possible but also advantageous, as it enabled integration in a European context, which, although it has always existed, is not always highlighted with the deserved relevance in national school curricula. It should be noted that European History is present in the curriculum of History, but in a very discontinuous way, not allowing the establishment of belonging, an identity rooted in a European context.
Interviewer: Did the other activities carried out within the scope of the EDT project with teachers and schools, in the context, for example, of the “Course of Literacy in Archives”, have an impact on the number or profile of visitors?
Maria: Except for a single specific case, it was not found that the activities developed with the professors through the “Literacy in Archives Course” had worked as a motivational factor for a visit to this exhibition. In fact, as the Portuguese teachers participating in the course stated, it will only have an impact when translated into the mother tongue of students and teachers, as is, in fact, expected in European projects.
Visitors to this exhibition fit the usual profiles: secondary school students (10th, 11th and 12th grades) and groups of students starting university education who come to know the ANTT’s potential for research .
Interviewer: What knowledge did visitors reveal about European History?
Maria: They revealed some knowledge, very fragmented, favoring emblematic and high-impact facts, such as the European Wars, for example, but with little relation to the European political, social and cultural space as a whole.
Interviewer: Is it important that students have some preparation for the visit or, on the contrary, is it better that there is no prior preparation?
Maria: When they are motivated and curious students, preparation doesn’t make much difference. It is important that the school proceeds with the exploration of the contents covered in the exhibition, through the respective catalog, the information accessible through QR-CODE or the website of the promoters.
The contact with such a great diversity and typologies of documents from European archives is very stimulating to broaden horizons and to develop the awareness that archives are fundamental to interconnect peoples, times and places through the construction of a collective memory and that everybody can access it freely, through digital platforms. In this European approach, there is a phenomenon of cultural relativization between the “I” and the “other”, which proves to be very healthy.
Interviewer: Of the various exhibition centers – medicine, energy and industry, transport and navigation – which ones aroused the most interest?
Maria: It was undoubtedly the “pillar” of medicine, the theme of combating the disease, because in a context of public health crisis caused by the pandemic, scientific discoveries in the area of medicine are front-page news. In front of an exhibition that highlights the creativity of European scientific discoveries and technological innovations, the curious and creative young visitors said that if they were allowed to make a scientific discovery to improve the quality of human life, it would be in the area of medicine that they would like to make their contribution.
This nucleus also allowed some reflection on scientific knowledge. The work of Garcia de Orta, a Portuguese physician who wrote about plants and other medicinal products from India (1563), was a pretext to question the nature of scientific knowledge, based on his phrase “What we do not know today, we will know tomorrow”. In times of uncertainty in the face of a pandemic that confronts us with the fragility of knowledge about a new virus, we see how in the past, in similar contexts, scientific discoveries were able to save lives and bring relief; the recognition of ignorance – “what we do not know today” – as a condition for discovery and, on the other hand, optimism in human capacities – “tomorrow we will know” – as a horizon of hope. And also about the obsolescence of scientific knowledge, based on a Nobel Prize in Medicine awarded to a practice of psycho-surgery, prefrontal leucotomy, which was later banned.
The centers (energy and industry, transport and navigation) also deserved special interest, depending on the training areas of the visitors. Students at the Aviation School, for example, “felt at home” in the face of pioneering aviation experiences and the complex and risky challenges of contradicting the law of gravity…
Interviewer: Did the fact that many documents are not physically present have an impact?
Maria: Yes, document reproductions are at a great disadvantage compared to originals. In future exhibitions, it would be good to improve the quality of the reproductions, so that they can compete with the originals. In this domain, but extending to all selected documentation, it would be important to improve contextualization, which is not always accessible to a non-specialized audience.
Interviewer: What is the impact of video games?
Maria: In a 45-minute group visit, the exploration work focused on the exposed documents, leaving this resource to be explored in the next visit or, eventually, at home or at school.
Interviewer: What is the impact of merchandising products?
Maria: The products’ creativity and aesthetics were highly valued, but the fact that they could not be purchased following the visit was disappointing, taking on the role of prolonging the visitor’s fascination.
Interviewer: What are the positive aspects to highlight?
Maria: For young people, Europe is, above all, a space without borders and a space of choice: where to live, where to study and where to practice your profession. Exhibitions of this nature are a resource that archives can make available to support decision-making based on knowledge of the multifaceted history of European culture.
In the visitor satisfaction survey, 85% rated the theme of the exhibition as “Very interesting”. The students who registered comments in the “Visitors’ book” used phrases such as: “Bué gira”, “I really liked it”, “Very cool”. Regarding the contents, phrases such as: “Very interesting”, “Very enlightening”, “Historically rich” stand out. As for the relevance of the themes in general: “Relevant themes”, “it never hurts [the European approach to History]; “The approach to the European dimension was lacking in secondary education”, “the exhibition multiplied my interest”.
Interviewer: What are the aspects to improve?
Maria: The dissemination strategy, which would benefit from being more aimed at schools, through, for example, promotional videos.
Written by General Directorate of Books, Archives and Libraries, Portugal.
The initially scheduled exhibition (July 15th to September 25th) took place during most of the school summer vacation period and within some restrictions of access to cultural equipment imposed by the pandemic.
From October 1st Portugal enters the third phase of the deconfinement plan. In this new phase we expect to receive more visitors, especially from school groups and also seniors whose associations are resuming their usual study visit schedules.
This exhibition presents products designed to attract new audiences to the world of archives and to show the potential of the digital world, video games, augmented reality, serious games, in the dissemination of heritage.
In this post we will be speaking with Dóra Rea Kövér, Hungarian designer who was charged with designing by the National Archives of Hungary. Rea works as a freelancer designer and lecturer at the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design (MOME, Moholy-Nagy Művészeti Egyetem).
This interview focuses on the designing process she made for the European Digital Treasures project. All her products as well as the other designs are part of the project’s product catalogue published in the product gallery menu.
Interviewer: Thank you Rea for taking the time to speak with me today on your work for the EDT project! School semesters are about to start so everyday life can get very busy for you now. Thank you for taking the time to interview with me. First of all, please tell me, how long did it take for your ideas to turn into tangible plans?
Rea: Thank you for the opportunity, I’m glad to answer your questions. It is quite difficult to define this process in time. In the beginning, the initial ideas had to be come up quite quickly, and then, in order for the products to be “born out of them”, they had to go through a lot of changes. These changes required a very different amount of time, for example, testing and developing a board game needed much more time than having a bookmark cut out of a metal plate based on a relatively simple template.
Interviewer: You made several plans for the archives, but not all of them were selected at the end. Are some of the unsealed that you regretted not making the final five?
Rea: Maybe so – but I prefer to consider the most important thing to implement the most suitable products for the given purpose. And exactly this was what happened.
Interviewer: Are there any of them that you think are feasible?
Rea: With proper improvements, all the original designs can become products.
Interviewer: Behind each plan, I feel a conscious and balanced choice of subject: the board game focuses on telling human stories, the time capsule focuses on their preservation, the travelling book-set on immortalization of notes and the impact (or lack) of travel on our lives, the bookmark on the connection between books and archives, while the inexhaustible pen emphasises the relationship between writing and the archival world. How conscious was this underlying message?
Rea: When I started working, I wanted to focus on topics that were actually related to archival life, the work done there: the storytelling and the preservation of stories in a broader sense. I thought it was important that the plans did not process the same activity, preferably each one should be different, so the variants were definitely a conscious decision. The phenomenon that these reports will eventually cover a larger field is rather a consequence of that effort.
Rea: Yes, I’ve been thinking about it, but I’m still considering what might be personally important, so I’m going to have to think about that a little bit.
Interviewer: We plan to use the time capsules at next summer’s international camp in Budapest. We plan to include you in the session where the competition winner students from Austria, Hungary, Norway, Malta, Portugal and Spain fill the time capsules with personal content. What do you expect? What do you think a high school student between the ages of 15 and 18 will hide in the capsule?
Rea: I can’t really predict… That’s why this is a good “experiment” to see what a teenager considers to be important for preservation from a tangible point of view.
Interviewer: I know from you that determining the alloy of the pen was very difficult. Without revealing your workshop secrets, will you tell me a little bit about the process?
Rea: Wow, in this subject, I wanted the metal of the pen to be the writing surface that leaves a mark on paper. Such a pen exists and it can be ordered, so I planned engraving on its surface. However, COVID crisis has greatly transformed the initial concepts, as I couldn’t count on an order, especially not from Asia, where these pens are manufactured. So, I had to find a metal to buy in Hungary, which would produce this effect. It wasn’t easy, and in the end, a magnesium aluminium rod became the solution.
Interviewer: You displayed quotes on two subjects: on the bookmark and on the pen. Are these passages of particular importance to you?
Rea: The Latin quote on the bookmark is a very early memory of equal opportunities and in general, equality, which is why it has caught my attention. It is rare to quote such thoughts from a perspective of 500 years. I liked the other quote for a different reason. On the one hand, you may feel a kind of tension from the sentence, with which József Kővágó tried to make the text as expressive, convincing, but emotional as possible. And there is also a sense of despair in the wording, known from the historical background (the fall of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956). The human side of the text was very plastic, one that immediately drags the reader into the historical event.
Interviewer: Have you tested the board game? If so, what were your experiences?
Rea: The gameworks, as I think the rules are good… We tested it several times with different companies, even during the design process. I hope those who will play with it will enjoy it as much as we did.
Interviewer: Thank you for your time! I really hope that we can work together in the future again! I wish you many new, exciting professional challenges and new successes!
Interview by Dorottya Szabó, senior archivist, National Archives of Hungary.