Cultural route

Coronavirus crisis special edition

The coronavirus is keeping everybody on edge. Even those who are not suffering  directly from the disease are experiencing massive restrictions on their personal freedom of movement. The requirement for "social distancing" bans events and tourist activities, overturns plans and programmes and, given the rapid spread of the pandemic, makes it impossible to predict how long this European and even global state of emergency will continue.

The measures taken by the relevant public authorities are important to curb the disease and save lives. But how do we deal with this large-scale "shutdown"? In this special edition of the newsletter, we want to stimulate ideas about how we can engage with potential visitors despite nationwide site closures. Being the largest industrial heritage network in Europe, ERIH provides a good basis for developing new approaches and for learning from each other.

In addition, we take this opportunity to share the latest information and news from the network. We would also like to emphasise that the ERIH office is open as usual.

The newsletter topics in detail:

  • ERIH virtual: Survey of digital attractions at ERIH sites
  • ERIH/ EU: EU measures in support of the cultural sector
  • ERIH/ Corona: Vouchers against loss of revenue
  • ERIH network: Using #stayathome to prepare for activities
  • ERIH save the date: Updating current schedules
ERIH virtual: Survey of digital attractions at ERIH sites

Nobody would have anticpated something like this just a few weeks ago: there are virtually no tourists travelling in Europe anymore. As a result, ERIH sites are among those being deprived of business and forced to shut down their facilities indefinitely. At the same time, social communication has largely shifted to online channels. An increasing number of cultural institutions are following suit: they stream upcoming events, use and develop innovative online concepts and thus keep in touch with visitors and potential audiences. The most recent example is the International Museum Day in May, which is going digital this year.

For ERIH sites, there are multiple options to interact by offering free digital attractions. While this does not generate revenues, it does contribute to increased online visibility and thus improves the chances for a fresh start once the coronavirus crisis is over. Which online concepts are available? Here are some examples:

  • Running engines: Machines in action are often highlights of guided tours or events. Obviously, this also involves sensory impressions such as smells, which are impossible to recreate online. However, watching a historical engine being set in motion can also be a digital experience - especially in combination with hands-on explanations of the historical context and how it works.
  • Oral History: in their exhibitions, a number of industrial monuments and museums present the personal recollections of contemporary witnesses and thus bring the history of an industry, a factory or a mine to life. Why not make such content accessible to the public in times of #stayathome?
  • Industrial heritage explained (live): employees introduce their favourite objects; the museum management invites the audience to join an extra guided tour of the industrial monument/ the current special exhibition or discusses upcoming events; a Q&A answers typical questions raised during guided tours; a digital, (maybe even multi-site) talk show discusses questions relating to the location, specific exhibitions or industrial tourism ... All of this may or may not be live, for example on Facebook.
  • Industrial culture interactive: In these days, many people have a lot of time to spend looking for entertainment for themselves (and their children). A good idea could be creative offers such as colouring-in sheets with industrial heritage images or maybe a series of quizzes on the purpose of certain objects in the site's own collection. Also popular are photo quizzes, for example, showing a detail of a machine or object to be figured out. Another possibility is a photo competition with public voting, which might be used to nominate, for example, the most beautiful image of a particular industrial monument. In a competition, one of the awards could include one or more free tickets for the next exhibition or any other post-coronavirus attraction.

To some extent, these or related online concepts are already offered by ERIH sites. A lot of experimentation is going on. ERIH could help to share a variety of online content formats in the network, pooling experiences and making them available to all members. This newsletter aims to initiate exactly that. For this purpose we have prepared a survey. It enquires about experiences and plans in terms of online activities, but also about reasons why sites may not have become active online so far.

ERIH online survey
Please fill out the online form by April 18, 2020 – the more members that participate in the survey, the greater the benefit for all of us. We will process and share the results as soon as possible and hopefully start a lively exchange.

ERIH online survey

ERIH Facebook account
In addition, we will be sharing on the ERIH Facebook account all online activities we hear about. Please send us a direct message including a link to the relevant online content via Facebook Messenger. If this should prove difficult, we would appreciate a notification by e-mail to (again, please be sure to include the relevant link).
ERIH Facebook account

ERIH/EU: EU measures in support of the cultural sector

A certain feeling of helplessness and the determination to counter the shutdown with creativity - this is perhaps the best description of the sentiment in the cultural sector. No matter whether institution or private project, ensemble or individual performer: you can't get by without an audience. All the same, or precisely for that reason, there are many and often innovative ideas for dealing with the new situation, and it's no coincidence that live broadcasting and streaming formats are booming.

This is what the EU programme for support to the culture and audiovisual sectors, Creative Europe, is relying on with the hashtag #CreativeEuropeAtHome. If the audience cannot join us, thus says the motto, we will come to the audience. The campaign is aimed at all those who are funded by Creative Europe, thus including ERIH sites, and it is not only intended to encourage a new "web culture", but also to increase visibility, in particular for small players.

ERIH/ Corona: Vouchers against loss of revenue

NEMO - The Network of European Museum Organisations has just published the results of a survey on the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on museums. It shows that especially larger museums and museums in tourism hotspots are experiencing a loss of income of 75 to 80 percent.  To compensate for these losses, some countries have launched or intend to launch emergency funds for cultural institutions. Primarily, they cover personnel costs and other current expenses. In contrast, most of the volunteer programmes had to be suspended, while contracts with freelancers were put on hold in many places.
results of NEMO survey

Where emergency funds are lacking and other financial support is unlikely, voucher schemes may provide a solution. Just a few days ago, the German government passed a resolution to support the tourism and culture industry and even seeks to amend current EU legislation accordingly. Local and regional stakeholders such as the Berlin campaigns 'Kiezhelfer' and 'Rette Deine Lieblingsorte' are also banking on vouchers to protect popular cultural facilities and restaurants from collapsing. Similar online calls are likely to be found elsewhere in Europe. In addition to the prospect of financial relief, they offer the advantage of activating people with an open-minded attitude in the long term. Both these aspects also benefit ERIH sites.

ERIH network: Using #stayathome to prepare for activities

WORK it OUT: Forward the dance tutorial
Due to the shutdown of museums and schools, the pan-European dance event cannot take place as scheduled on 1 May. We are currently planning to hold the event at the participating ERIH sites later this year. If this should prove impossible, we will be developing a virtual version. Since music and choreography have already been produced, the dancers might like to use #stayathome in order to practice the dancing for themselves. We suggest that you forward the dance tutorial to your dance groups and schools, using the following link. Thank you very much.
WORK it OUT dance tutorial 


LINKING EUROPE: Find a partner online now
What is the link between the “Queen Louise” Adit in Zabrze, Poland, and the Dudley Canal in England? Which English railway pioneer built one of the steam engines that inaugurated Belgium's first railway line on 5 May 1835? And how is it that the engine houses in the Spanish mining district of Linares look exactly the same as engine houses in Cornwall?

In the last ERIH newsletter we referred to the Linking Europe project. With specific examples, it illustrates the international scope of Europe's industrialisation and how this is reflected in the ERIH sites. Linking Europe provides an excellent framework for this: specially designed steles or poster dispensers reveal the cross-border linkages by recounting the international "biography" of a particular object or aspect. All linkages are permanently displayed in our virtual exhibition.
Virtual Exhibition "Linking Europe"
The "Linking Europe" project

If you have a linking Europe story to tell at your industrial heritage site and have not yet identified a potential partner site in any other European country, you can now send your partner request with all relevant information by e-mail to We will immediately publish the request on the ERIH website.

Currently we are seeking information on the following issues or partner sites:

  • Which museum outside Hungary has rolling stock with wheels manufactured by 'Ganz & Cie.' foundry in Budapest?
  • Which museum displays carding machines supplied by 'Sächsische Maschinenfabrik zu Chemnitz, vormals Richard Hartmann' (Saxon Machine Factory at Chemnitz, formerly Richard Hartmann)?

Save the date: Updating current schedules

The international ERIH dance performance WORK it OUT on May 1 unfortunately has to be postponed due to the Corona crisis. As soon as a new date is available, we will share it here in the newsletter and on Facebook.

ERIH Annual Conference
Preparations for the ERIH Annual Conference from 7 to 9 October 2020 at the ERIH Anchor Point Museum of Industry in Ghent, Belgium, continue. Hoping that we can hold the event as planned, we will soon publish the Call for Papers.

Updated other events dealing with industrial heritage (tourism)