In order to digitize its image collections, the Archaeological Museum Hamburg | City Museum Harburg expands its partnership with the Elbe-Werkstätten.

Since autumn 2018, the Archaeological Museum Hamburg | City Museum Harburg made selected objects of its collection publicly accessible on a digital platform. At first, highlights from the photographic collection of the City Museum Harburg will be published, objects from other collection areas will follow later. The data is updated regularly, so that the number of objects available online is constantly growing. The museum is supported in this by the Elbe-Werkstätten.

The development of web-based databases has also aroused great interest in museums in recent years. Society is becoming more and more interconnected, and especially historical content should increasingly be accessed and communicated online. Especially photographic collections provide an important access for future generations to find reliable answers to their questions about our present and past in the context of written tradition. To do this, it is necessary to capture the photographic heritage digitally, not only in order to permanently protect and preserve sensitive photographs, but also to make them accessible to the public.

Collecting institutions such as the Archaeological Museum Hamburg | City Museum Harburg are thus facing a tremendous challenge. The museum is taking up this challenge with the help of the Elbe-Werkstätten. At the moment, the digitization of the entire museum photo archive is progressing step by step. Since the beginning of the year 2018, a five-person working group from the Elbe-Werkstätten has supported the museum team in its work. In an initial phase of the project, 120,000 original photos were professionally scanned and recorded in a database as early as October 2017.

“We would like to develop our collection digitally so that it can be made available to researchers and interested parties from all over the world,” explains Michael Merkel, head of the collection and project coordinator in the museum. “We are particularly pleased that we have found a competent partner for this pilot project with the Elbe-Werkstätten.” The Archaeological Museum Hamburg | City Museum Harburg is thus the first Hamburg museum to have entered into such a cooperation

“Participation in the working life means participation in society,” says Jens Rabe, manager of Elbe-Werkstätten (Elbe ReTörn company for people with mental disabilities). “The outdoor working group at the Archaeological Museum Hamburg | City Museum Harburg offers this to its employees in a variety of ways. We are delighted about this great cooperation.”

The database and the future online portal are being developed in close cooperation with the joint headquarters of the “Gemeinsamer Bibliotheksverbund in Göttingen” (VZG; “Connected Library Association”), which also provides additional capacity to secure the valuable image data.

The picture collection of the Archaeological Museum Hamburg | City Museum Harburg represents an essential part of Harburg’s photographic tradition, which helps tracing the change in the cityscape from the mid-19th century to today. The digitization of this stock provides a systematic overview of 150 years of urbanization, and opens up a significant source for urban and regional research and architectural history. In the future, a dense network of information will be created through cross-references and feedback between the objects, which can also be used for academic and private research.

The project is supported by funds from the IT Global Fund of the Department of Culture of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg