Journeys of discovery from the sofa

Journeys of discovery from the sofa

Digital Open Monument Day is a huge experiment © Peshkova (shutterstock)

Discovering monuments digitally is the unwritten motto of this year’s nationwide Open Monument Day. Thematically, the organizers want to make clear that monuments also contribute to the future.

It’s a huge experiment: the Open Monument Day, Germany’s major nationwide cultural event, is taking place primarily on the Internet this year. Discovering monuments digitally is the motto. In Corona times, parks, castles, industrial plants and churches come directly to your home. A voyage of discovery from the sofa.

The German Foundation for Monument Protection spoke on Monday of a great response and much enthusiasm for the new digital formats. Already, more than 500 photo series, virtual tours of churches, factories and castles, 3D tours, videos or podcasts have been produced and posted, said Heritage Day team leader Sarah Wiechers. It expects around 800 different offers to be made on Sunday, 13 September. September, via the website will be viewable.

Already in the spring the monument protection donation had called cities and municipalities, associations and private monument owners to present their monuments because of the Corona pandemic in the Internet.

Participation "off the couch"

Providers can enter their digital contributions in the foundation’s calendar of events. Links will then direct visitors to the respective channels. The foundation itself wants to present highlights. Visitors can use a digital map and search masks to look for interesting contributions nationwide. And all citizens can take part in a photo competition and send in pictures of historic buildings from their neighborhoods.

Steffen Skudelny, Chairman of the Foundation, speaks of a great opportunity for the protection of historical monuments. From the new presentation formats all Federal citizens profited, who could be present "from the couch" in completely many places and become acquainted with country widely monuments. The protection of historical monuments could find many new friends this way. In some places, digital monument day has sparked a lot of activity.

Like in Pforzheim, where the Protestant Schlosskirche St. Michael with its interior, bell tower and princely crypt, as well as the exterior facade, were digitally measured and photographed. Every detail becomes visible: the gargoyles on the outer facade, the princely tombs or figures lying in the darkness of the church interior.

"Opportunity Monument: Remembering. Received. Rethinking"

But the organizers do not want to do without guided tours everywhere. In Quedlinburg, for example, the museums are to be open regularly. Some guided tours will also be offered – but with advance reservations and limited numbers of people. On the market place there will be an information stand of the world heritage city. A digital guided tour explains the construction work on the historic Collegiate Hill.

Thematically the monument protectors want to direct the view on this year action day into the future and describe monuments as chance and innovation engine. "Opportunity Monument: Remembering. Preserve. Rethinking" is the motto. A monument documents history, tells stories and creates familiarity, they say. But many of the monuments also make a future contribution to climate protection, the preservation of craftsmanship and sustainability.

"With monuments, repair goes before replacement. Whether it’s flooring, windows, paint traps – "craftsmen and restorers are being used in just about every area," the monument conservation foundation emphasizes. Many of the craft techniques required for this are now part of the intangible cultural heritage: for example, gilding techniques in church painting, the production and application of traditional lime mortar, thatching, the building trade and organ building.

Historic gardens and green spaces have a special value for the climate in many cities. For they ensure the circulation of fresh air and provide habitats for animals and plants. Monuments also prove that regional and durable building materials could be used and recycled, preservationists say. "Whether a Gothic church, a half-timbered courtyard or a brick house – they all have in common that energy and emissions were saved by using natural and regional raw materials in construction."

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