About Coding da Vinci

What's special about Coding da Vinci?

Coding da Vinci - Westfalen Rhurgebiet 2019

Participants at Coding da Vinci have significantly more time to develop their software applications than in regular hackathons – usually six to ten weeks. In this timespan participants and donors of data can build bridges between the worlds of creative tech and institutional cultural heritage, they can learn from one another and actively work together. This sprint begins with a kick off weekend during which cultural institutions present their data to hackathon participants. Shared ideation begins and interdisciplinary teams are built. In the following weeks the project teams elaborate their ideas until they reach the status of working prototypes that they present to the public at the closing ceremony. The best, funniest, most extraordinary and technically most advanced projects win prizes.


Presentation of the data, workshops and team building


Six to ten weeks for the development of projects

Award ceremony

Public presentation of all projects and award ceremony

The potential of open cultural data

To date, over 2,000 participants at Coding da Vinci events have developed over 140 digital applications based on over 300 datasets shared by over 200 cultural institutions. The digital projects are strikingly diverse and of high technical expertise. Here are some examples:

Mobile apps:

  • zzZwitscherwecker: An alarm clock that wakes you with a different birdsong every morning that you can only turn off by correctly identifying the bird species.
  • Zeitblick: An app that analyses selfies and searches for historical look-alikes in the image archive of the arts and crafts museum in Hamburg.

Websites with storytelling, maps or interactive presentations:

  • Wiederaufbau Ost-Berlin: A mobile webpage that combines archival material from different sources to recreate the vision the GDR government had of its capital.
  • Chronoscope Hamburg: A time machine through 300 years of Hamburgs history. Historical maps of Hamburg are overlayed on a current map of the city and can be explored with a timeline.

Augmented reality applications and hardware projects:

  • Berliner MauAR: This augmented reality app brings back the Berlin wall. Historical photos are downloaded and positioned on your screen right where they have been shot.
  • 162 ways to die: Interactive installation based on the Jesuit copper engravings of the municipal museum in Landsberg am Lech. Small wooden figures symbolise some of the depicted Jesuit priests. When put on a specific platform, they recount their life, work and death – including a magic moment.
  • Cyberbeetle: A robot version of the Chalcosoma Atlas beetle. The robot itself is now exhibited at the natural history museum in Berlin and watches music videos inspired by nature on its own interactive home cinema.

"Taking part in the hackathon was huge fun and very inspiring, and beyond the competition I could make valuable contacts."

"These images are far too beautiful to stay within the walls of a museum. The raw material was so good that we never wanted to stop gathering more material and information."

"For us the participation in Coding da Vinci was really positive. I am deeply impressed by how sophisticated the projects are. It was exciting to work with a young and interdisciplinary team that looked at our collection from a new and fresh angle. Their website www.bilder-der-revolte.de shows how much can be achieved in a mere ten weeks, which concepts can be designed – but also the level of skills that is necessary. A modern museum has to stand its ground on the internet. That's one important task that Coding da Vinci is about in our eyes. The cultural hackathon helps us find new possibilities."

"It was my first time. Generally, it was a great experience that I would recommend to everyone who wants to be creative."

"It is great that libraries and other institutions finally dare to make their data openly accessible. That way, they will be much more visible as cultural institutions."

"Software development takes time and resources that an institution has to raise in the first place. Here, we not only got good feedback from the developers but also good results. It's a good opportunity for cultural institutions to stay visible in a digital world."

"The two kick off days were a wonderful experience. I can only recommend that institutions not only come to present their data but to take advantage of both days. You rarely get so much input in such a short time."

"Thank you so much for the great organisation and the event in general. This hackathon is really fun because it is not all about business but culture. Just brilliant."

"I'm already looking forward to the next cultural hackathons. Coding da Vinci Süd was really well organised and the format gets better and more interesting every time. I'm especially happy that we can raise the idea of Coding da Vinci to an international level in 2020. At the moment we're planning cultural hackathons in Brazil, Indonesia and in a country of the Sub-Sahara African region."

"What my learnings are? I have another take on the issue of open data. Instead of waiting for an overarching strategy for the complete museum, I try to convince individual curators on the basis of concrete projects. The projects and achievements tell their own tale! So I hope to spread the spirit of Coding da Vinci among more and more of my colleagues. The Rolling Stone project certainly convinced my colleague from the geological collection of the advantages of working with people from outside our institution. The fact that the project even won a prize also surely doesn't hurt. My conclusion: Museums can be afraid of many things but not of Coding da Vinci."

"European elections are coming up next week. We especially want people under the age of 40 to engage with the idea of Europe by playfully diving into the photographs from the Willy Pragher Archive. That can be a great motivation to go voting next Sunday."

"We want to make our project visible and re-usable in the long term. All images of menus as well as the data that emerged during our work will be permanently stored in the repository of the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich (OpenData LMU) and will be referenceable by means of a DOI."

"The museum for arts and crafts Hamburg was inaugurated in 1877 with the aim of inspiring new creative achievements and of passing on knowledge. The free availability of data and media files in our digital collections expands our founding mission to the digital sphere. We're especially happy that this mission is supported by Coding da Vinci Nord and that it underlines the potential inherent to our common cultural heritage for creative processes, learning and innovation."

"After the good experience of Coding da Vinci 2015 in Berlin we didn't hesitate to take part in Coding da Vinci Nord. What can be better for us than letting creative and enthusiastic people build new applications on the basis of the cultural heritage in our archives?"

Any more questions?

Please reach out to the regional organisers or contact us directly:

Email:info [at] codingdavinci.de (info[at]codingdavinci[dot]de)

+49 69 1525-1847


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