On the remote arctic island of Svalbard, a diverse group of people gathered with a shared purpose: to ensure survival of their piece of world memory.
Although many others also wished to be there, travel restrictions meant this was an intimate gathering, attended by representatives from The National Museum of Norway, UNICEF Norway, the Norwegian Defense Museum, and the Mjøndalen Sports Association.
Unable to attend but there in spirit included representatives from Olga Tokarczuk Foundation and Literary Publishing, CIASC and Sapio Analytics.
Armed with their chosen data, the grouped marched 300 metres into the decommissioned coal mine to the Arctic World Archive (AWA), a treasure trove of world memory.
AWA is a secure data vault holding a valuable collection of world memory, set in one of the most geographically, climatically and politically stable places in the world. Data is stored on unique long-term archival technology, developed by Piql AS, designed to last for centuries with guaranteed future accessibility.
An intimate ceremony was held to mark the importance of storing these items for the benefit of future generations.
Speaking at the event, Piql’s Managing Director, Rune Bjerkestrand, welcomed the new deposits and the importance they hold for world memory.
‘The data you have deposited today (physically or virtually) contributes to richer picture of our era for the generations to come,’ he said.
New AWA deposits
UNICEF Norway made their second deposit, featuring a petition of thousands of signatures in support of their previous deposit, of the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child, stored in AWA in 2019. This completes the project and adds the personal connection and individual accountability of upholding these rights to the weight of such a declaration.
The National Museum of Norway made its third deposit in a row deposit, with important photographic collections from three female photographers: Harriet Backer, Britta Marakatt-Labba, and Eline Mugaas.
Harriet Backer (1845-1932) is one of the foremost Norwegian painters of the 19th Century, with 2020 marking 175 years since her birth. She is also one of very few artists who will be presented with a separate room in the new National Museum in Oslo, due to open in 2021.
Britta Marakatt-Labba (1951) is a Samí artist, especially known for her embroidered textiles depicting the cultural and political history of the Samí people.
Eline Mugaas (1969) has been one of the key photographic artists in Norway working with since the 1990s.
In addition, the Museum also deposited its entire art database of 400,000 assets held by the museum.
This latest deposit also signifies an enduring collaboration between the Museum and Piql for the mission of long-term digital preservation.
The Norwegian Armed Forces Museum deposited a significant part of its digitised photo collection including the complete collection from The Norwegian Resistance Museum (Hjemmefrontmuseet). This collection details the struggle and difficulty of life in Norway under occupation during World War II.
The Museum is also the first client to receive Piql’s brand new software platform for their digital preservation workflow.
Mjørndalen Sports Association, Norway, deposited its 110-year history, featuring celebrated triumphs, rivalries, videos, photos and stories that have been treasured by the community.
This is the first AWA deposit of sporting organisation’s complete history. With sport such an integral part of life in our era, this represents the start of an important chapter in AWA.
Sapio Analytics deposited high resolution images of the Ajanta Caves in India, the first AWA deposit of a UNESCO world heritage site.
The caves are situated in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra state and constitute ancient monasteries and worship halls of different Buddhist traditions carved into a 75-metre wall of rock.
Considered some of the most significant ancient art in the world, these paintings and carvings hold immense importance for people in many nations. The paintings cannot be photographed with flash or lights, so a special low-light photographic technique has been used to capture the art in high resolution. Deep learning AI is also applied combined with knowledge from historians to restore any broken images.
Supported Indian Ministry of Culture, the capture of such a large and significant UNESCO heritage site is a major undertaking and will take years to complete.
This deposit includes a photograph of Ajanta Caves by Benoy Behl, showing a king renouncing all worldly pleasures, the paper Revelation of Ajanta Caves, support from Indian business leaders about the project, alongside initial high-resolution restored capture of the caves.
Olga Tokarczuk Foundation and Literary Publishing(virtually) deposited the complete literary works of Olga Tokarczuk, a Nobel Prize Laureate, marking the first Polish contribution to AWA.
Tokaczuk is a highly celebrated Author through the deposit of her 14 novels, also provides the first contemporary literary contribution to AWA.
“This is, in a way, a natural step which, apart from the Nobel Prize awarded last year, ensures the survival of Olga Tokarczuk’s works. Thanks to this technology, it will remain safe,” said Anna Zaremba-Michalska, President of the Management Board of Wydawnictwo Literackie (Tokarczuk publishers since 2001), which financed the storage of the AWA deposit.
“Together, we made sure that our founder’s books could survive any catastrophe and be an inspiration also for future inhabitants of the Earth,” added Izabella Kaluta, Vice President of the Olga Tokarczuk Foundation.
CIASC, a public provider of IT services in Brazil and in collaboration with Santa Catarina State Archives, virtually deposited precious archival documents capturing the history of the State of Santa Catarina.
The collection portrays the political and administrative history since 1703 and highlights the actions and relations established by the government of the Island of Santa Catarina with the regal or central power since the colonial period, passing through the province of imperial times until the middle of the 20th century. The documents show the peculiarities of governance, territorial, economic and social formation over time.
Added to this documentary heritage is a cartographic collection of more than 4,000 maps, plans and sketches, 9,000 iconographic images, 700 multimedia materials and a support library that accommodates more than 5,000 textual bibliographic volumes, including rare works dated between 1752 and 1959.
Moderna Museet, Sweden, virtually deposited a copy of its entire art database of 140,000 pieces, along with the descriptions and images.
‘We have a world-class collection of modern and contemporary art, and we are deeply convinced that art says a lot about the world it was created in and the people who created it. We want future humanity to get an idea of who we were, by seeing the art we created today,’ says Gitte Ørskou, director of Moderna Museet.
The Finnish Labour Archive, Työväen Arkisto, the oldest labour archive in Finland holding political, trade union and other donated archives, deposited a photo collection from the history of the archive, including personal stories.
Martin Schøyen Foundation, holding the largest private collection of manuscripts in the world, deposited the Bibliotheca Manuscripts Schoeyana, as well as a collection of Buddhist manuscripts, curated by the University of Oslo.