Last year, 42% of the cultural heritage stored in memory institutions was digitised

Estonian Ministry of Culture,
18 June 2024, Estonia

The digital action plan prepared by the Ministry of Culture in 2018 aimed to digitise a third of the cultural heritage stored in our memory institutions by 2023. The newly completed summary shows that almost half of Estonia's document, print, object, film and photographic heritage is available digitally.

The action plan focused largely on heritage from the years 1900 to 1940, digitising documents, printed matter, photographs, films and artifacts. The digitisation projects were led by the National Archives, the Estonian National Museum, Estonian Public Broadcasting, the Estonian Literary Museum and the University of Tartu.

"In addition to helping to preserve heritage for future generations, digitisation allows us to experience the part of publications, museums and archival materials that people would not otherwise have access to. Digitisation also opens up new opportunities for the use of heritage – the emergence of new cultural phenomena and creations," said Kristiin Meos, adviser on digital cultural heritage at the Ministry of Culture.

At the time of the completion of the action plan "Digitisation of Cultural Heritage 2018–2023", there were a total of more than 900 million heritage objects important for Estonian culture in memory institutions managed by the state, of which only a tenth had been digitised. By the past year, almost half of the objects were digitized, including:

  • 6,617,760 pages of document heritage;
  • 52,874 items;
  • 695 hours of film heritage;
  • 167,000 photos;
  • 3,500,000 pages of publications.

In addition to the digitisation projects, the action plan included the upgrading of heritage preservation infrastructure. The museums' information system MuIS was developed, and the Estonian Public Broadcasting and the National Archives acquired an archive mirror on a tape robot, which allows for safe and long-term preservation of heritage in another geographical location. The National Library of Estonia developed mirko, a nationwide e-loan.

The action plan was prepared in cooperation between the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and the Ministry of Education and Research. The idea for the action plan was born and the objectives were formulated in the Digital Cultural Heritage Council. The activities were financed by the European Regional Development Fund to the tune of €6.9 million, with a total budget of €9.7 million.

You can read more about the implemented digitisation projects in the final report of the action plan on the website of the Ministry of Culture.  

A new "Digital Action Plan for Cultural Heritage 2024-2029" is currently being completed, as a result of which 55% of Estonia's cultural heritage will be available digitally, conveniently used and safely preserved by 2029. The new action plan focuses on the user of digital cultural heritage. The Action Plan will continue digitalisation, but with a stronger focus on accessing and increasing the usability of digital heritage. As a new activity, 3D digitization of the object and construction heritage will be added.