28 August, 2009
Flickr Commons: It was a year ago...
The National Media Museum has been part of Flickr Commons, the "opportunity to contribute in describing the world's public photo collections", for a year. It's been fun.
Flickr Commons, for those who haven't come across this section of the renowned photo-sharing site, is an area devoted exclusively to museums, institutions and photography archives from around the world, to show off their "hidden treasures". It started a couple of years ago when the US Library of Congress came to Flickr asking about hosting some of their thousands of public domain images they hold that they wanted to catalogue, but had no time to do. The Commons was born.
From a base of one institution in January 2008 the Commons now has 27 organisations from around the world taking part, from the Smithsonian to the National Library of New Zealand, from the National Galleries of Scotland to Nantucket Historical Association, from the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney to our own National Media Museum in Bradford!
We launched on August 27th last year (the first UK institution on Commons) with three sets; the wonderful images of late-19th century photographer Peter Henry Emerson; amateur photographs from the turn of the last century using the first ever commercially available camera, the Kodak No.1; and most amazingly, the spirit photographs of William Hope. Why so amazing? Because they captured the imagination of the Flickr collective - 100,000s of views, 1000s of comments, and 100s of arguments over whether they were fake or real, spooky or not.
Since then we've released six further sets, encompassing animals, babies, human expressions and war, however one of the strongest sets was released earlier this summer, when we uploaded 16 images personally selected by the world-renowned photographer Don McCullin, also combining the virtual with the physical for the first time (we exhibited the images in the Insight space in the Museum concurrently). Showcasing Don's love of images of former empires through their buildings and monuments, the set has been a critical success both in the Museum and on the web.
And so we reach our first birthday - one candle on the cake. We're committed to showcasing some of our "hidden treasures" on Flickr Commons for the foreseeable future, and the curators love the freedom the online space gives them. So come and say hi to us on Flickr at some point, and don't forget to put the comment "spooky!!!" on one of the Wiliam Hope photos.