The Operational Programme Digital Poland: Open Zachęta

Otwarta Zachęta

Together with its partners — the Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts and the Centrum Cyfrowe Foundation — Zachęta is carrying out one of the largest projects of digitisation and sharing of modern art collections in Poland. In 2023, thanks to a new system of collection sharing, viewers will see several hundred works from the Zachęta collection — including sculptures such as Katarzyna Kozyra’s Animal Pyramid and Alina Szapocznikow’s Tumours Personified — using 3D technology.

The Open Zachęta project is the expansion of the gallery’s consistently implemented accessibility policy. By 2023, 640 works from the collection will be digitised and made available, as well as more than 2,000 contextual materials from 1970–1990 (exhibition catalogues, posters, photographs, educational materials, and even chronicles of the Art Lovers’ Club that operated at Zachęta in 1962–2005). Additionally, ten unique works from the Zachęta collection, including the aforementioned sculptures by Katarzyna Kozyra and Alina Szapocznikow, will undergo conservation and digitisation using 3D technology.

The key task of the Open Zachęta project is to reduce of all technological barriers — legal, equipment- or competency-based, as well as those resulting from disabilities — to access the digital resources and tools created by the gallery. That is why innovation, education and accessibility are such important areas of the project.

As part of the programme, we are creating:

  • tools for sharing and viewing the collection online created specially for Zachęta, which allow us to upload digitised works of modern art in a much more complex format than the digital reproductions of paintings traditionally published in repositories. The works presented, including those modelled in 3D, will be available for download and use, which will take the users from passive recipients of art to active participants and co-creators.
  • an online tool targeted for teachers, using the Zachęta collection to develop interest in art in students beyond the framework of the school curriculum. It will help to encourage the students to explore on their own, discover new forms of art and experiment with them.
  • an online tool for culturally-active persons (including people with disabilities), which will facilitate comfortable and easy exploration of the modern art collection gathered by Zachęta in a way that will meet their particular needs, including the use of such solution as audiodescription, alternative descriptions and translation of films into Polish Sign Language.

An equally important area of the project is opening and reducing legal barriers that restrict the use of gallery resources. In 2011, Zachęta was the first institution in Poland to make part of its collection available licensed under Creative Commons licences. Works from the collection are made available with clear information about copyright, or the possibility of reuse of digital copies, copying, modification, use for both non-commercial and commercial purposes, without any restrictions, but with respect for the personal rights of the artist.
All digital tools will be created based on open source solutions — after the programming work is completed, their code will be made available for use by other cultural institutions. The hackathon planned for the conclusion of the project will be an invitation for programmers, graphic designers, interface creators and project managers to create their own apps, projects and even works of art using the Zachęta digital collection and the tools developed during the project.

All activities carried out during the Open Zachęta project are in keeping with the gallery’s statutory objectives of disseminating and promoting contemporary art. We believe this will be achieved by providing the widest possible access to knowledge, culture and modern sources of information. 

Open Zachęta. Digitisation and access to Polish contemporary art resources from the collection of Zachęta — National Gallery of Art and the development of IT tools, competence development of cultural staff, animation and promotion aimed at using digital cultural resources for educational, scientific and creative goals. 

The total value of the project is PLN 7,384,688.10 with the value of the financing from the European funds budget: PLN 6,630,496.31. 

The partners of Open Zachęta are the Centrum Cyfrowe Foundation and the Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts.

The Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts is an association of people who are interested in contemporary art and who wish to actively support Zachęta’s statutory activities. Referring to the founding mission of 1860, the Society pursues its goals by purchasing works for Zachęta’s collection, organising educational programmes and supporting artists. In 2020, TZSP, together with Zachęta, initiated the 160/160 grant programme, which aims to support artists affected by the pandemic, as well as work on the Zachęta collection. 

The Centrum Cyfrowe Foundation supports the cultural and educational sectors in the process of digital transformation. In the Open Culture Studio, the Foundation carries out digital projects for cultural institutions, supports them in the process of collection digitisation and conducts studies in the cultural sector.  In 2021, it published the report ‘Kultura w pandemii’ [Culture in the pandemic], which studied the situation of the cultural sector during the pandemic. The Foundation also organises trainings to increase the digital competencies of cultural institution staff. In the Open Zachęta project, the Foundation is responsible for designing digital tools for individual recipient groups and coordination of programming work.