News & events

Got a moment? A million hours of audiovisual content preserved by VIAA

25/10/2019

UNESCO wants to use the World Day of Audiovisual Heritage to showcase cultural heritage professionals who are busy safely preserving audiovisual content every day. Audiovisual archives the world over are celebrating this day, and VIAA is joining in.

We already have over a million hours of audiovisual content in our archive system. You’d need nearly 42,000 days to watch and listen to it all. That’s 115 years’ worth of images and audio from over 150 content partners. In all this wealth of content, we’ve searched out some of our oldest items and we’re happy to share an antique film and audio clip with you today.

One of the oldest film clips we’re storing is a report on the Ommegang in 1921, a historical procession that took place in Antwerp. The short film, which we’ve digitised and are preserving for the FelixArchive, shows a view of Antwerp’s Grote Markt with standard-bearers, floats, giants and fanfares all passing by.

Photo of a wax cylinder from the archives of Ghent University
Photo of a wax cylinder from the archives of Ghent University

Below you can listen to a clip of Aida by Verdi, which was recorded on wax cylinder in 1898. Imagine: this sound was produced 130 years ago. Wax cylinders were used as early as the 19th century to record sounds which could then be played back on a phonograph manufactured by the Pathé brothers. We digitised a few badly damaged examples for mudel, the Museum of Deinze and the Leie region. Unfortunately you can hear this damage in the recording.

Find out more about the World Day of Audiovisual Heritage and other initiatives here.