This is epic. No, it's more than epic. It's Europeana, Europe's digital library which aggregates over 23 million artworks, books, photographs, recordings and films from over 2,200 contributing museums and cultural heritage museums from 33 countries.
Best of all, many of the items in Europeana's database is public domain CC0 (no copyright), so everyone can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work - even for commercial purposes - all without asking permission.
This is a coup d'etat for advocates of open cultural data. The data is being released after a grueling and unenviable internal negotiation process that has lasted over a year - involving countless meetings, workshops, and white papers presenting arguments and evidence for the benefits of openness.
Why does this matter? For one thing it will open the door for better discovery mechanisms for cultural content.
Currently information about digital images of, for example, Max Ernst's etchings, Kafka's manuscripts, Henry Fox Talbot's catotypes, or Etruscan sarcophagi is scattered across numerous institutions, organisations and companies. Getting an accurate overview of where to find (digitised) cultural artefacts by a given artist or on a given topic is often a non-trivial process.
To complicate things even further, many public institutions actively prohibit the redistribution of information in their catalogues (as they sell it to - or are locked into restrictive agreements with - third party companies). This means it is not easy to join the dots to see which items live where across multiple online and offline collections.
Opening up data about these items will enable more collaboration and innovation around the discovery process.
Take a look: Link