Europeana projects for 2011

With 2011 now upon us, Europeana has planned a series of exciting projects and improvements to unite Europe's cultural heritage to make using even easier than before.

Europeana will travel around Germany to gather First World War memorabilia such as family letters and pictures from local communities. Material contributed by the public will be digitised and included in Europeana.

Some of the digitised objects will also be featured in a new virtual exhibition. The online display will place objects from Germany's citizens alongside items already gathered by the Great War Archive in the UK and First World War relics from institutions across Europe.

In this way, the experiences of families on all sides of the trenches during the First World War will be represented in a single space, creating a unique pan-European view on an event traditionally covered from a solitary national perspective.

More virtual exhibitions will follow later in the year, including one on the history of travel, which is being assembled by EuropeanaTravel and The European Library.

These exhibitions are one of the main ways in which Europeana aims to highlight themes from the millions of items in their collection and show how digitisation can help unite Europe's shared cultural history, even when the physical objects are geographically far apart. For example, their debut exhibition on the theme of Art Nouveau brought together posters, sculptures, photographs and designs from dozens of cultural institutions in seventeen European countries.

The spring and summer months will also be a time to unveil improvements to the functionality of the portal.

"We will focus on enriching the content and providing context. We'll improve search and discovery as well as inviting users to share their knowledge with us. Through APIs and widgets it will also be possible to re-use Europeana content on partner web sites," says David Haskiya, Europeana's product developer.

Throughout the year, there will also be plenty of new content to explore. Musical instruments from museums across Europe will be added by MIMO, as will television footage from EUscreen and descriptions of archival materials from the APEnet project.