Exhibit your archive and collections online

This section looks at the various ways of making your archive and collections findable online. You can opt to use either your own website or a specialised heritage database. Whichever you choose, you’ll also need to decide whether to make your full archive and/or collections findable, or just a selection of some of the (main) items.

Please note: you first need to clear rights on documents before posting them online.


Tip: in order to make your archive or collection findable and searchable, but only allow controlled use, you need to draw up an agreement (model agreement) with the user.


Exhibit your archive and collections on your website

Adding an archive section to your website, e.g. with photos, videos, press releases, articles, tour details, etc. can help people find your work and projects. A few examples:

This section looks at the various ways of making your archive and collections findable online. You can opt to use either your own website or a specialised heritage database. Whichever you choose, you’ll also need to decide whether to make your full archive and/or collections findable, or just a selection of some of the (main) items.
Kunstenfestivaldesarts archive web page


Or you can post a full archived website online, which can be a particularly good option for annual festivals. Artefact is a good example of this.

You might also choose to combine archive and collection items in a virtual exhibition. Some example tools and implementations include:

Sway is part of the Microsoft Office 365 package and a very simple way to set up your own online exhibition or tell a digital story. CEMPER (Centre for Music and Performing Arts Heritage) uses Sway to present its puppet collection.

MOVIO is a free, open source platform developed as part of the European project, AthenaPlus. MOVIO can be used as a simple tool kit to create digital exhibitions and reports. It was originally developed for use in museums and other cultural heritage institutions, but can also be used by other organisations. Theater aan Zee (TAZ - Theatre by the Sea) was the first arts organisation in Flanders to start using this tool for its exhibition, ERTAZEENS | 20 JAAR TAZ (20 YEARS OF TAZ). You can read how the exhibition came about in the practical example, Looking back on 20 years of Theater Aan Zee with an online exhibition.

Google Cultural Institute enters into partnerships with museums and cultural institutions to exhibit heritage online. The House of Alijn was the first Belgian museum to use this service in 2013 when it created a digital exhibition about the history of circus in Belgium with items from its collection: Amazing acts! A dive into the history of circus in Belgium.

Register your archive and collections in a specialist heritage database

Flanders has many specialised heritage platforms that make it possible to find archives and collections from artists and arts organisations, each focussing on their own geographical area or subject matter.

Flemish heritage databases

Archiefbank Vlaanderen and ODIS are two databases that combine individuals’ and organisations’ archives from the whole of Flanders and Brussels. Archives and collections are registered at the highest level in these databases, which means they provide information about at least the title, creator, scope and dating for each archive or collection. The content is described in broad terms, but not made available at item level.

This category also includes databases with information about archives and collections according to carrier type. For example, there’s Het Archief where images and audio are collected together from Flemish culture, media and government sectors.

Archiefbank Vlaanderen is the central database for Flemish private law archives. Read the Registration in Archiefbank Vlaanderen section to find out how to register your archive with Archiefbank Vlaanderen.

ODIS is a collaboration between Flemish heritage institutions (ADVN - Archive for National Movements, Amsab - Institute for Social History, KADOC - Documentation and Research Centre on Religion Culture and Society from KU Leuven, Liberal Archive) to unlock heritage from Flemish civil society. It’s an instrument that's well integrated in the cultural heritage community. Archive files that are entered in ODIS automatically appear in Archiefbank Vlaanderen, for example. It is not possible to enter your own archive and/or collection. Contact ODIS or a heritage organisation that works with your type of heritage to find out more.

hetarchief.be. Flanders has a wealth of images and audio, stored with various organisations: from cultural heritage and performing arts organisations to government agencies and public service broadcasters. Meemoo, formerly VIAA, digitises this analogue audiovisual content where necessary and stores it sustainably together with digital collections in its own archive system. The content itself is often copyright protected and so can’t simply be displayed online. This means you cannot consult the audiovisual content itself at hetarchief.be, but you can look up the descriptions, titles and keywords for the items digitised by meemoo. One you’ve found what you’re looking for, you can contact the organisations that manage the content you’re interested in to find out more. It is not possible to add your own archive and/or collection. Please contact meemoo or a heritage organisation that works with your type of heritage for more information.

Heritage databases for each arts discipline

There are a number of subject-specific databases for registering and accessing arts archives and collections.

The Flanders Architecture Institute (VAi) provides as much information as possible about the built environment in Flanders and Brussels in the architectural archives database. This database contains information about archives that are managed by various storage facilities, with details about architects, designers, town planners, construction companies and other people and organisations related to the built environment in Flanders and Brussels. Please contact the VAi if you own this type of heritage and would like to see it made available on this platform.

Muziekbank Vlaanderen was the online platform from Resonant that kept a record of musical heritage in Flanders, with descriptions of archives, collections, items and masterpieces. The database has no longer been in use since 2018, but the information can still be looked up at CEMPER, the organisation created by the merger of Resonant and Het Firmament. Please contact CEMPER if you want to consult this information or if you have a musical heritage archive or collection.

The Agrippa literary database contains descriptions of archives from writers, playwrights, publishers and other literary stakeholders stored at the Letterenhuis. Please contact the Letterenhuis if you own this type of heritage and would like to see it made available on this platform.

Artinflanders.be brings over 30,000 images from 60 Flemish art museums and heritage organisations together on a single website.

Regional heritage and image databases

Various cities, municipalities and provinces have a heritage or image database for their local and regional heritage. Please contact the director of the heritage and image databases below if you’d like to help.

Erfgoedplus.be is the website for cultural heritage in the provinces of Limburg and Flemish Brabant. Heritage objects are added and mapped out visually, and can be searched using the underlying database. Erfgoedplus also has an import module: the Erfgoedregister. This enables organisations that don’t have their own digital inventory to describe their objects and import them into the database. It is open to anyone with a heritage collection. Please contact Ergoedplus.be if you would like to take part.

Erfgoedinzicht.be has the aim of providing virtual access to cultural heritage from West and East Flanders. Both these provinces want to chart their cultural heritage and encourage people to care for it. The Erfgoedinzicht database includes an import module which allows the heritage to be described and managed in a standardised way.

It is currently only available to affiliated institutions. Partner organisations include S.M.A.K. (Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art in Ghent) and MDD (Museum D'Hondt-Dhaenens).

Overview of regional heritage and image databases

In addition to the databases for the provinces of Flemish Brabant, Limburg, and West and East Flanders, there are also online heritage platforms for cities, municipalities and regions. New heritage and image databases are springing up all the time, which means the list below may not be complete. If your region, city or municipality is not included in this list, please contact your local heritage body. The Erfgoedcellen.be website currently lists 22 cultural heritage bodies in Flanders and Brussels.

Authors: Nastasia Vanderperren ( meemoo) and Eline De Lepeleire (Letterenhuis)

TRACKS is a collaboration between these partners: