Culture.pl: How it All Began
A Short History of Culture.pl
As of today Culture.pl is the world’s largest portal dedicated specifically to Polish culture. It’s unique in its combination of articles written by experts that make up the internet encyclopedia and the calendar that covers events in Poland and abroad. Additionally the site features hundreds of original photos and videos covering exclusive interviews with important figures in the Polish cultural scene. Accessible on mobile devices and ever growing in its presence online, here is a brief account of how this all got started.
Culture.pl - History
The internet debut of Culture.pl occurred in July 2001 after three months of preparation. An initiative of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, which was founded just a year before the website premiered, it would contribute to the organization’s efforts to promote Polish culture abroad. From its inception the site was to be an independent and comprehensive source of knowledge for both Polish and foreign users. Credit for its creation goes to Andrzej Lubomirski, who was a long-term editor, and his collaboration with Monika Rencławowicz led to its concept and logical structure.
The first version ("navy blue with a yellow bar”) was based on HTML language. In its earliest phase, the content of the portal consisted of a calendar covering the Europalia Festival (which featured Poland as the 2001 guest of honour) and events organised by the Institute as well as brochures published by the Institute. In July of that year the calendar with its list of Polish cultural events burst onto the scene and quickly became a prime source for those interested in happenings across the world. Reporting on exhibitions, concerts, film festivals, and spectacles, Culture.pl consolidated information about events in Poland and abroad in one location.
Shortly afterwards external authors were invited to collaborate. Experts in their respective fields like art historians, critics, and researchers were recruited from respected organisations like the Centre for Contemporary Art, the National Museum, and the Polish Composers’ Union. Their efforts marked the beginning of the website’s trademark Resource Library.
The portal’s second version ("violet”) went online in June 2002. It featured a new graphic layout and was created with the use of the CMS system and Zope technology. Wanting to expand, the project envisioned the use of audio and video files to accompany the text and illustrations as well as provide content in French, German and Spanish. The standard Polish and English language versions were soon supplemented by translated material that was created in connection with various projects run by the Institute; for instance the Year’s of Poland in Spain in 2001, in Austria in 2002 or in France in 2005. Those pioneering days featured quick gains in popularity and high positions in search engine results.
The next version ("brown”) was presented in April 2008. It enabled the creation of separate pages for special projects and the sections contained enhanced graphic layouts and structures. This initiative corresponded with the growing amount of projects organised by the Institute such as: the Polish-German year (2005/2006); Poland-Russia (2008), and the Polish Year in Israel (2008/09). The year 2008 also featured the creation of the Russian version a well as an option for users to create personalised bulletins well before the official era of community portals.
In November 2009 the fourth version of the portal ("red”) was launched. Marek Zalejski was the author of the logo, graphic layout and concept for the renovation which was to install a new structure of joint pages, interactivity and photo galleries.
Another big change occurred on the 1st of June 2011, when Poland assumed Presidency in the European Union. The address Culture.pl (then depicting “bricks” and a thorough reconstruction) became the official site of the cultural programme of the Polish presidency for half a year. The portal informed users in great detail about the 400 Polish cultural events that took place in 10 capital cities across the world (http://www.culture.pl/projekty-polska).
The next revitalisation of the site ("white” version) took place in the spring of 2013. This change was an anticipation of the next big metamorphosis planned to occur in November 2013. As a part of its next great transformation, Culture.pl would receive a completely new layout, new architecture, a more intuitive navigation system and new functions.
Today the portal houses nearly 38 thousand articles (8 thousand of which are in English) grouped into categories according to field. In these sections readers will find both news reportage and elements that once comprised the Resource Library. This categorisation is meant to provide a complementary means by which to learn about Polish culture. Current news informs about topical events like concerts, exhibitions, and festivals, while the material on artists and works serves as a comprehensive encyclopedia on Polish culture. This means that our users know about contemporary happenings as well as the context in which they are taking place.
Taking into account the attractiveness and modernity of its materials, Culture.pl set up its own channel on Vimeo and Youtube, where one may view all the films and multimedia materials produced by the portal. The video section presently consists of nearly 300 videos. Culture.pl also contains a vast collection of photography that consists of over 1000 photo galleries presenting portraits of creators, pictures of works and archival material.
Ranked higher than such pages as onet.pl or wp.pl, Culture.pl’s position on PageRank (8) makes it the fastest and most accessible way to learn about Polish culture for foreign users. Since November 2010 our bio of Wisława Szymborska was read by 68 thousand users and 60 thousand acquainted themselves with Janusz Korczak. Another 11.1 thousand users saw the trailer for the remastered version of “Pan Tadeusz” from 1928, and in English bio readership, 32 thousand users read about Karol Szymanowski while 18 thousand users read about Czesław Miłosz.
Culture.pl is visited every year by over 1.15 million users who generate over 2.8 million views. Since the beginning of 2013 the portal has been visited by over 200 thousand foreign users.
Constantly under development the website provides a veritable outpouring of new material. Frequent updates are made to the calendar and the library’s growth with new artist profiles descriptions of works goes unmatched. Also, older articles are updated on a rotating basis to ensure the most accurate information. Presently our web portal’s activity has great presence on networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Reddit and this area will only continue to expand as articles in the new site are able to be commented upon, evaluated and shared. These features can now be easily taken on the go as users are now able to access the site via mobile devices all thanks to a specially designed application.
Editors in chief of Culture.pl:
2001- July 2008 - Andrzej Lubomirski
August 2008 - January 2009 - Marek Hancke
February 2009 - April 2012 - Elżbieta Sawicka
since April 2012 - Weronika Kostyrko