On 19 August 2009, Regionarkivet (a municipal archive institution based in Gothenburg, Sweden) and Wikimedia Sverige announced the release of 28 high-quality and high-resolution images onto Wikimedia Commons.
These photographs, all of which are in the public domain due to their age, were taken by some of the most influential photographers of the 19th century.
Amongst the pictures are some taken within the UK by the British architect and photographer Francis Bedford:
- A photograph of the northwest tower of Exeter Cathedral
- Photographs of the south Nave Aisle, a sculpture on the North West angel and the chantry in the nave of Wells Cathedral
- A photograph of the excavation of Viroconium Cornoviorum – a Roman town in Shropshire that was once the 4th largest in Britain (picture right)
The Wikimedia Commons page describing the partnership gives the history of the images. “The images were brought to Sweden by architect Victor von Gegerfelt, probably during his visit to France during the 1850s. Among the photographers were Gustave Le Gray, Francis Bedford and Roger Fenton. The originals then hung on the walls of the Gegerfelt villa, where they were largely forgotten, until they were donated to Regionarkivet with other documents and pictures. The photographs were later rediscovered by an employee at the archive, put on display at the Hasselblad centre in Gothenburg.”
Having these images freely available on the internet means that they can be easily viewed by anyone in the UK for the first time. They were previously stored in special, climate-controlled storage vaults in Sweden.
This is a great example of the kind of partnerships that Wikimedia chapters can have with cultural institutions benefitting both sides. Wikimedia UK are keen to engage with institutions in Britain in projects like this – please get in touch if you would like to discuss this further.