Engage new audiences by working with Wikimedia

Wikimedia exists to make knowledge open and freely available, and Wikimedia UK is the national charity for the global Wikimedia movement. Our vision is of a more tolerant, informed and democratic society through the shared creation of, and access to, open knowledge. We work in partnership with the cultural and education sector to make knowledge freely available, usable and reusable online, with a focus on increasing the quality and quantity of coverage of underrepresented subjects.


Wikimedia UK’s work has the potential to transform the public’s engagement with cultural heritage collections, as can be seen through the success of our Wikimedians in Residence programme across the UK. Wikimedians in Residence act as change makers in their host institutions, advocating for open knowledge and embedding open practices through training, outreach, policy development and research. Residents are currently based at Bodleian Libraries, National Library of Scotland, National Library of Wales, Scottish Libraries and Information Council, the University of Edinburgh and Wellcome Library, with previous residencies at organisations including the British Library, Cancer Research, Jisc, Museums Galleries Scotland and York Museums Trust, among others.


Our work with galleries, libraries, museums and archives has a particular focus on issues of equality and diversity, as this is a core element of our strategy. One of our planned outcomes is the elimination of systemic bias on Wikimedia, and we are working closely with cultural sector partners to diversify Wikimedia’s content and contributors. One example of this is our involvement with the global initiative Art + Feminism, which aims to improve coverage of female artists and their works on Wikimedia. Through this programme in the past two years we have collaborated with a wide range of arts organisations including Dulwich Gallery, Leeds Central Library, Royal Academy of Arts, Tate and many others. Wikimedia UK also spearheaded a partnership between the BBC and the global Wikimedia movement in December 2016 to raise awareness of the gender gap on Wikipedia and encourage women to edit. In our work with libraries and archives, we open up access to hidden histories, challenging the androcentrism of our cultural heritage and focusing on marginalised people and communities.

Why the contribution is important

Wikimedia UK collects robust data from all our programmes and is currently evaluating the long term benefits of hosting a Wikimedian in Residence. As an illustration of our impact in terms of reach and access, it’s worth noting that the images and other heritage assets shared on Wikimedia through our current residencies had been viewed over 600 million times by March 2017. Whilst many cultural organisations put considerable effort into developing a strong social media presence, and increasing visitors to their own websites, engaging with Wikipedia and its sister websites such as Wikimedia Commons, Wikisource and Wikidata can therefore make a huge difference to the national and international reach of their collections.

We believe that Wikimedia UK's focus on diversity is another important element of our idea, given the potential for Wikimedia's work with the sector to help build an inclusive online community, ensure that the Wikimedia projects reflect our diverse society, and enable cultural organisations to address issues of bias and inequality within their own institutions and collections.

by LucyCromptonReid on August 04, 2017 at 12:46PM

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  • Posted by willpsaunders August 09, 2017 at 16:41

    This is interesting and I believe you might already be talking to Jane Finnis in our team around opportunities for cultural sector organisations to work more closely with Wikimedia? It would be good to hear more about the opportunities as you see them and any potential blockers around IP or copyright?
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