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Moments in Time 1989/1990

Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen; Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung

In 1989, the democratic mass protests of thousands of unsatisfied GDR citizens led to the Fall of the Wall and eventually to the end of the GDR. 20 years later, our picture of this process is limited to the Fall of the Wall and a few key events, comprised of permanently repeated images. What is sorely missed are photos and films taken from the perspective of the general public, revealing the transformations before and after these events and their impact on daily life.

MOMENTS IN TIME 1989/1990 uncovers a treasure trove of private photo albums and videos. What till now was gathering dust in cellars and attics is brought into newly participatory light via the utilisation of solid Web 2.0 approaches and Creative Commons licences.

Our primary goal in the technical realisation of MOMENTS IN TIME 1989/1990 was to make access to the images and their use as easy and comfortable as possible.

Faceted Search

With the help of facets, users can perform an easy, targeted search for photos and films of and related to specific people, organisations, places, events, themes and emotions. The basis of this search is a project-specific thesaurus, which was developed, expanded and updated on the basis of the images contributed. That's why the term 'Berlin Wall', for example, has come to consist of seven different keywords, and amongst the featured place names you can discover tiny villages that according to our participating photographers also played a decisive role in the events of 1989/1990.

Images cannot only be discovered via their depicted content, but also via background information provided by photographers. To index and differentiate this we introduced a 'context' keyword relationship. Further simplifying ease of access, we integrated a complex system of synonyms and the transliteration of texts contained in the images (i.e. slogans on banners, election posters, graffiti, etc.).

Time-based Cataloging

In order to make the – sometimes very long - videos more accessible, these are separated into chapters. Each chapter is individually indexed, enabling users' navigation to the point which is of greatest interest to them.


Contextualising the images was central to the process of cataloging. We provide users with specific historical contexts via accompanying texts and links to external sites. All photos and films are locatable through geotagging.

Site format

In designing the site, we found it important to distinguish between editorial and user remarks. That’s why all editorial information can be found in the grey box on the right-hand side, whilst all ‘personal’ information is highlighted underneath the objects. This is where our users can also leave their ranks, comments and tags.

Discover new Histories

Finding it important to keep things fresh and allow users various approaches to the material, we introduced the MEMORIES and THEMES pages. Both offer photo and video albums. On the THEMES page, site editors compile sets to specific points of reference. On MEMORIES meanwhile, photographers illustrate stories with selected photos and films. Registered users also have the possibility to create their own sets of images and to share them, sending the provided web-link to friends and family.

Discover History Anew

MOMENTS IN TIME 1989/1990 stimulates discussion and debate: users are able to rank images, as well as leaving comments and tags. Existing gaps in knowledge are deliberately rendered visible in order to encourage user participation. And about 80% of all images are licensed under Creative-Commons BY-NC-ND, their use for non-commercial purposes specifically authorised.

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