Khalili Foundation: Year in Review

  • January 29, 2024

Dr Martin Poulter has been the Wikimedian in Residence at the Khalili Foundation since 2019. Our partnership with the Khalili Foundation has facilitated an incredible wealth of cultural information and research being added to the wiki projects, with a particular focus on non-western art. In this blog, we take a look at the achievements made over the last year of the residency.

In 2022, Martin and Waqās Ahmed researched the extent to which the western art canon was represented on the wiki projects in comparison to the art of other cultures. Unsurprisingly, western art has much higher representation. But with the help of the Khalili Foundation’s images and expertise, as well as native language speakers from the wider Wikimedia community, this residency is filling the gap.

The residency has previously shared over 1500 from all eight Khalili Collections. These are used in 90 different Wikimedia platforms (up from 81 last year). Articles referencing these items and information from the Collection saw a rush of translations from English into other languages, enriching other language Wikipedias with this wealth of cultural heritage. This made it a record year for image views at 78.5 million views of Khalili images across all Wikimedia platforms.

In 2023 the emphasis of the residency shifted from sharing images and creating articles, to running events. Two editathons were hosted by Wellcome Collection and Khalili Research Centre, University of Oxford. The Wikimedians of Islamic Civilization User Group hosted two online sessions about using Khalili Collections’ Islamic art in Arabic Wikipedia. Waqās made a presentation to Art UK using this project as a case study of successful sharing of cultural heritage on Wikimedia.


The Kaaba surrounded by concentric circles of Arabic calligraphy in a Chinese pilgrimage scroll. Chinese caption and calligrapher's seal impression on the upper right
The Kaaba surrounded by concentric circles of Arabic calligraphy in a Chinese pilgrimage scroll. Chinese caption and calligrapher’s seal impression on the upper right. File:Khalili Collection Hajj and Arts of Pilgrimage MSS 1288 kaaba.jpg. CC BY-S.A 3.0
Photograph of an iron, steel and brass war mask.
Iron, steel and brass war mask. File:Khalili Collection Islamic Art Mtw-1390.jpg. CC BY-S.A 3.0.

Looking ahead

As the residency continues, Martin hopes to share more articles about art works and about topics that link multiple works (such as exhibitions). The residency also aims to promote cultural diversity more generally, by encouraging the community to improve Wikipedia articles about artists and masterpieces from all the world’s cultures.

For more information on our cultural partnerships, you can visit this page. We also have a Get Involved page which lists some of the ways you can explore exciting partnerships such as this one.

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