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High-tech box delivers culture to the doorsteps of Gent residents

High-tech box delivers culture to the doorsteps of Gent residents

An innovative action making cultural heritage accessible, but also participative

A mobile collection of 100,000 digitalized objects, belonging to the cultural heritage of Ghent will be touring around three city districts. The EU-funded initiative will start in 2022 striving to make culture more accessible for all society members. The residents of the selected city areas will be able to “consume” culture on the spot for free, but also - to contribute to the collection with their own stories.

Digitalizing culture makes it more accessible

The 'Collection van de Gentenaar' (The collection of Ghent residents) is an Urban Innovative Action, which received 4.7 million euros under the respective European programme. Its objective is to break down the walls between citizens, museums, heritage institutions and the creative sector.

To do this, the abovementioned institutions will digitalize and make publicly available some 100,000 items part of the cultural heritage of the Flemish city and integrate them into a high-tech mobile experience. The high-tech box, named CoGent for short, will display parts of the collections of various museums but will also allow the residents to share their own stories and integrate them into the heritage of Ghent.

The latter is an important objective of the project, which aims to strengthen social cohesion and inclusion in the neighbourhoods and to reach residents of Ghent who usually do not visit museums. Two community workers will ensure that.

Starting in 2022, the collection will travel to the residents of three city districts - Watersportbaan-Ekkergem, Sluizeken-Tolhuis-Ham and Wondelgem. The selected places represent a district in the centre, a district in the 19th-century belt and a sub-municipality. One thing in common between them is the high percentage of inhabitants of foreign and migrant origin.

For example, in Watersportbaan – Ekkergem a third of the inhabitants are of foreign origin with the largest groups coming from the Netherlands, Bulgaria and Slovakia. In Wondelgem one-fourth of the population is of foreign origin – mostly consisting of Bulgarian and Turks, while in Sluizeken-Tolhuis-Ham 59% have a migration background.

The ultimate collection will be ready in June 2023. Then it will be given a permanent place in DING, the new wing of the Design Museum Ghent.

Later today, project participants will be kickstarting the project and giving an overview of the innovative experiment. Find out more from this link (in Dutch).  

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