Showcasing African Heritage Innovation on an International Stage

In the past year, I have had the honour and privilege of presenting some of the achievements we have accomplished here in Africa at some of the World’s leading heritage forums.
IASA International Conference 2018, University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana

Black Star Gate at Independence Square, Accra, Ghana
Black Star Gate at Independence Square, Accra, Ghana

At the beginning of October last year, I had the privilege of presenting at the 49th international conference of the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA), the World’s leading association for professionals “concerned with the care, access and long-term preservation of the world’s sound and moving image heritage.” The conference was held at the University of Ghana, Legon, in Accra, and what a wonderful event it was, and the more so because it was held on African soil. I found the engagement with audiovisual archivists from around the World both stimulating, fascinating and stretching. At the conference, I got to present on “Innovation to Enable Access to the ANC Archives.”

The Balme Library at the University of Ghana, Legon campus.
The Balme Library at the University of Ghana, Legon campus.

Conference attendees at the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) at its international conference at the University of Ghana, Legon.
Conference attendees at the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) at its international conference at the University of Ghana, Legon.

Neil Garner from Training for TV Ltd. running a workshop at the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) international conference at the University of Ghana, Legon.
Neil Garner from Training for TV Ltd. running a workshop at the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) international conference at the University of Ghana, Legon.

As part of the 49th international conference of the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) held at the University of Ghana, Legon, delegates got to tour various facilities to do with audiovisual archives. I joined in the tour of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation. Here our tour group is introduced to the radio archive.
As part of the 49th international conference of the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) held at the University of Ghana, Legon, delegates got to tour various facilities to do with audiovisual archives. I joined in the tour of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation. Here our tour group is introduced to the radio archive.

As part of the 49th international conference of the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) held at the University of Ghana, Legon, delegates got to tour various facilities to do with audiovisual archives. I joined in the tour of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation. Here video casettes are stored on shelves in the video tape and film library. The archivist expressed the urgent need to digitise the library so that the content can be preserved. Many national broadcasters are the custodians of African content that has not yet been digitised and is therefore vulnerable.
As part of the 49th international conference of the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) held at the University of Ghana, Legon, delegates got to tour various facilities to do with audiovisual archives. I joined in the tour of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation. Here video casettes are stored on shelves in the video tape and film library. The archivist expressed the urgent need to digitise the library so that the content can be preserved. Many national broadcasters are the custodians of African content that has not yet been digitised and is therefore vulnerable.

Conference attendees at the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) at its international conference at the University of Ghana, Legon.
Conference attendees at the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) at its international conference at the University of Ghana, Legon.

The Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and Mausoleum is a significant heritage site in Accra honouring the memory of the man who led Ghana out of colonialism.
The Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and Mausoleum is a significant heritage site in Accra honouring the memory of the man who led Ghana out of colonialism.

2+3D Photography – Practice and Prophecies 2019 Conference, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Then in May 2019, I presented at what has come to be known as the World’s leading museums photography conference, the 2+3D Photography – Practice and Prophecies 2019 conference at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I had attended this conference in 2017 and was amazed at the exceptional standard of the presentations from experts from all over the World. The conference has become the bi-annual gathering of the “cutting edge” in the world of heritage digital imaging. The conference is booked up months in advance and attracts leading practitioners from national and private museums, universities and heritage institutions from all over the world including the British Museum, The MET, The Getty, The Tate, The Library of Congress, The Bodleian Library at University of Oxford, National Portrait Gallery of Australia, Harvard Art Museums, Smithsonian Institution, Finnish National Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Rijksmuseum, National Museum of Science and Technology in Milan, MoMA, Louvre Museum, The Palace Museum in Beijing and many, many more. So it was an amazing privilege to be the first person from Africa to present in this forum. Again it was an ANC Archives related presentation “Digitisation, Preservation and Presentation of the ANC Archives”. Below is the recorded live stream of the session. It is well worth looking at other presentations given at the conference all of which can be found in the 2+3D Photography conference online magazine.

Prince Contantijn van Oranje gave the opening keynote address at the 2+3D Photography 2019 conference in the auditorium at the Rijksmuseum. Starting with video clips of the burning Notre Dame cathedral, the Prince went on to speak about devastations to numerous heritage sites of international importance including the destruction of the University Library of Mosal by ISIS in 2016 and to speak about the Cultural Emergency Response programme of the Prinse Claus Fund that ensures rapid intervention anywhere in the World when cultural heritage is under severe threat. Where possible, digitisation is an important part of such interventions.
Prince Contantijn van Oranje gave the opening keynote address at the 2+3D Photography 2019 conference in the auditorium at the Rijksmuseum. Starting with video clips of the burning Notre Dame cathedral, the Prince went on to speak about devastations to numerous heritage sites of international importance including the destruction of the University Library of Mosal by ISIS in 2016 and to speak about the Cultural Emergency Response programme of the Prinse Claus Fund that ensures rapid intervention anywhere in the World when cultural heritage is under severe threat. Where possible, digitisation is an important part of such interventions.

Fellow presenter from the Majority World, Millard Schisler, former Director of Preservation of the Cinemateca Brasileira (Brazilian Film Institute) spoke about the challenge of developing a cost-effective digitisation kit for heritage institutions in Brazil. It is the kind of intervention needed for community museums across our continent.
Fellow presenter from the Majority World, Millard Schisler, former Director of Preservation of the Cinemateca Brasileira (Brazilian Film Institute) spoke about the challenge of developing a cost-effective digitisation kit for heritage institutions in Brazil. It is the kind of intervention needed for community museums across our continent.

Me (David Larsen) presenting at the 2+3D Photography conference at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
Me (David Larsen) presenting at the 2+3D Photography conference at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Vince Rossi, Jon Bundell and Ralph Wiedemeier presented a workshop at the 2+3D Photography conference at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam on the Open Source 3D pipeline they have been developing at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, USA.
Vince Rossi, Jon Bundell and Ralph Wiedemeier presented a workshop at the 2+3D Photography conference at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam on the Open Source 3D pipeline they have been developing at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, USA.

Phase One was present at the 2+3D Photography conference and took the opportunity to run a parallel session in a hotel close to the Rijksmuseum where they showcased their new Multispectral Photography kit using the Phase One iXG camera. Multispectral photography has significant benefits for Art Museums in terms of the conservation and restoration of artworks.
Phase One was present at the 2+3D Photography conference and took the opportunity to run a parallel session in a hotel close to the Rijksmuseum where they showcased their new Multispectral Photography kit using the Phase One iXG camera. Multispectral photography has significant benefits for Art Museums in terms of the conservation and restoration of artworks.

IIIF Internatonal Conference 2019, University of Göttingen, Germany
Finally, at the end of June, I was at the University of Göttingen at the 2019 International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) conference. Once again I had the privilege of interacting with innovators from many of the world’s leading universities and heritage institutions. Like in 2018, I was the only African presenting at the conference, but at least I met a fellow African there who is currently based in Belgium. My 7-minute lightning talk was on “Building IIIF Capability into a Digital Asset Management System”. While we are still at the outset of our IIIF journey, we have made some strides over the past year in making IIIF capabilites native to the MEMAT 4 Presentation Layer (PL). More recently we have been developing what we call the Curation Layer to MEMAT 4 with the development of a number of features that allow for the curation of material from a digital archive. Many of these features will have IIIF functionality at their core.
We are thrilled to be hosting Africa’s first IIIF event later this month at the University of KwaZulu-Natal during our Heritage Digital Campus 2019. Don’t miss out on being brought up to speed with the revolution that is happening on the interface between heritage and technology.

CEO of Europeana, Harry Verwayen, gave the opening keynote address at the 2019 IIIF international conference at the University of Göttingen, Germany. He gave a fascinating talk on the future of digital culture.
CEO of Europeana, Harry Verwayen, gave the opening keynote address at the 2019 IIIF international conference at the University of Göttingen, Germany. He gave a fascinating talk on the future of digital culture.

Jeff Steward, Director of Digital Infrastructure and Emerging Technology at Harvard Art Museums (right) and Edward Silverton Co-Founder and Developer at Mnemoscene during a tour of some of the fascinating history of Göttingen. Edward was the developer of the Universal Viewer that Africa Media Online uses as part of its MEMAT 4 system.
Jeff Steward, Director of Digital Infrastructure and Emerging Technology at Harvard Art Museums (right) and Edward Silverton Co-Founder and Developer at Mnemoscene during a tour of some of the fascinating history of Göttingen. Edward was the developer of the Universal Viewer that Africa Media Online uses as part of its MEMAT 4 system.

The central square at the University of Göttingen.
The central square at the University of Göttingen.

The picturesque university town of Göttingen in Lower Saxony, Germany.
The picturesque university town of Göttingen in Lower Saxony, Germany.