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Europeana: Culture gems for lifelong learning

EPALE asked Milena Popova, business development manager at the Europeana Foundation, to tell us more about Europeana – the EU digital platform for cultural heritage – and why it is valuable for lifelong learning.

EPALE asked Milena Popova, business development manager at the Europeana Foundation, to tell us more about Europeana – the EU digital platform for cultural heritage – and why it is valuable for lifelong learning.


A rich bank of resources

There is a widely shared understanding that our future’s worth is closely related to the quality of our education. Not only does learning and lifelong learning in particular bring more economic opportunities, it is also essential for our general well-being and personal growth. On our quest for knowledge in our busy adult lives, we are often looking for quick and, ideally, free access to trustworthy and engaging learning resources.

This is where Europeana comes in. Europeana is Europe’s platform for digital cultural heritage, available to anyone anywhere to explore and learn from. Europeana provides free online access to over 50 million digitised items drawn from over 3,700 museums, archives, libraries and galleries across Europe. Its collections feature a huge diversity of content from 43 countries and in 23 different languages, on various themes and media, including artworks, photographs, fashion designs, 3D images, maps, newspapers, and more. Around 20 million of these digital records are openly licensed and suitable for free reuse in creative and educational projects.

Europeana Collections Screenshot

Screenshot, CC-BY-SA Europeana


Learners of all ages can enjoy unique content on their topic of interest delivered in various engaging formats. They can search in Europeana Collections by colour, people, time period, and topics or explore curated resources, ranging from online exhibitions and galleries to thematic collections on World War I, art, music, fashion, photography and more. Virtual exhibitions combine engaging narratives with visually appealing cultural content, allowing people learn easily through a centuries-old way – storytelling. For example, take a look at the Art Nouveau exhibitions, showcasing the beauty and richness of the Art Nouveau movement from a historical perspective.


Europeana and lifelong learning

Europeana has also worked with well-established partners to develop a range of digital resources for lifelong learning, from e-books and MOOCs to professional online services useful to both amateur and professional audiences. In collaboration with Apple, EUROCLIO and Europeana, the Belgian history educator Gwen Vergouwen created and published the multi-touch book World War I: A Battle of Perspectives. The interactive book is free, bilingual (English and Dutch) and explores four hypotheses for the break-out of the First World War using sources from Europeana. The book was downloaded by people between 15 and 65 from all over the world.

WW I: A Battlefield of Perspectives

Multi-touch book ‘World War I: A battle of perspectives’, CC-BY-SA Europeana


Another example is the free MOOC developed by the KU Leuven within the Europeana Space project on how to creatively reuse digital cultural content for research, educational and design projects. The course runs for 8 weeks in English and is suitable for a wide range of learners: students or teachers with an interest in cultural heritage, cultural sector professionals, developers or simply a cultural heritage enthusiast without prior technical knowledge.

Finally, those with deep interest in history and the history of science can make use of the online educational platforms Historiana and InventingEurope. The latter explores the formation of Europe through the lens of science and technological breakthroughs in numerous virtual tours and exhibitions. InventingEurope also supports life learners through a dedicated education area with learning materials and assignments featuring related objects from Europeana Collections. Historiana is an initiative of EUROCLIO that brings supplementary pan-European resources to history educators and students, including innovative digital tools, curated mini-collections and learning activities with Europeana content. Historiana recently won the LLL Award 2017 (Lifelong Learning Award) during Lifelong Learning Week (20-24 November 2017) in Brussels. The award recognised the Historiana eLearning Environment as an example of best practice in the field of education and innovative pedagogy.

In 2018, we will celebrate the European Year of Cultural Heritage and the 10th Anniversary of Europeana. These two great occasions will spotlight digital cultural heritage as a part of people’s everyday lives and, in particular, as an unexploited learning resource for young and old. Whether you are just knowledge-thirsty or have a professional interest related to culture, Europeana invites you to explore its collections and share any digital learning resources you develop with cultural data.


Get in touch

To find out more and stay updated on Europeana’s activities and new resources, sign up for the newsletter or join this LinkedIn group. You can also contribute to the conversation by following #EuropeanaEducation on Twitter or emailing

Milena Popova is the Head of the Re-use services team at Europeana which aims to increase re-use of digital cultural content in education and by the creative industries. Milena is responsible for the development of distribution partnerships with diverse networks (from innovative labs and start-up hubs to educational associations and publishers). She also oversees the promotion and uptake of Europeana incubation services (challenges, match funding) and the growth of the market specific communities (Europeana Labs and Europeana Education).

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