Map reveals Europe’s cultural treasures

Cultural Gems

A map of Europe’s cultural locations has been launched, with the aim of boosting engagement by helping locals and visitors find places of interest that might otherwise have passed them by.

Cultural Gems “provides a social sharing platform for local communities to show their hidden cultural spots, and for visitors to discover cultural and creative places off the beaten track”, according to the EU research centre that developed the map.

Until now, no single tool has provided a comprehensive map of Europe’s cultural and creative offerings, the Joint Research Centre said. Cultural Gems shows where to find spots including art galleries, historic sites and tourist information in 168 cities across 30 European countries, it said.

The map certainly seems to be comprehensive: it highlighted more than 100 cultural finds in the roughly 2-mile stretch of central London that Danube tested it on. However, having launched on 7 December, it is not yet very informative: very few of the “gems” highlighted had any information associated other than a name.

For some items, a name alone is quite informative; “George Washington memorial” is fairly self-explanatory. For others, such as recent artworks, the lack of additional information makes the listing either an unhelpful waste of time or an intriguing place to explore, depending on your inclination.

The lack of information is somewhat intentional: Cultural Gems is “fully crowdsourced”, meaning that “Citizens, cultural and creative organisations, NGOs and city authorities will be able mark cultural and creative places on their city map and attach key information such as opening times, descriptions and pictures as well as post ratings and comments on existing points of interest.”

Cultural Gems’ launch coincided with the winding down of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, a cultural celebration that the European Commission – the EU’s implementing body – said engaged over 6.2 million people in more than 11,700 events.

“I am proud that the European Year of Cultural Heritage has successfully reached millions of people across Europe and beyond,” the culture commissioner Tibor Navracsics said. “We now need to ensure that its legacy lives on – because cultural heritage is not only about the past, it is key in building a cohesive, resilient Europe for the future.”

Launching Cultural Gems is one of various actions the Commission has taken to try to secure that legacy. Other actions taken or planned include devoting more funding to promoting the European Heritage Label that marks 38 “sites that play a symbolic role in Europe’s history, culture or the development of European integration”, and strengthening the online Europeana portal of digitised cultural materials.

Never one to shy away from mucking in, Danube played its part by providing the first-ever review of the Tate Modern art gallery (we gave it five stars out of five).

Words: Craig Nicholson

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