Published  05/01/2009

EU Babel

The European Unions much-vaunted project for a massive electronic Bibliotheque, entitled Europeana, is what the Commissions leader Jose Manuel Barroso calls a Renaissance Moment. Can Europe really outdo existing market search engines in the arts field`? Certainly, as reported on the day after launching by the press, on 20 November, had already crashed by mid-morning through excess demand and inadequate access, with 10 million hits in less than an hour (or so we are told). Given the current Babylon exhibition at the `British Museum and the images of the Tower of Babel, Europeana came up trumps with is own Tower image which forms a background to the painting by Domenico di Michelino entitled Dante illuminating Florence With His Poem. We tried to access this too, but the site was already jammed on more than one occasion. Perhaps Barroso will see his way to commissioning for Brussels a new Tower Europa modelled on Michelinos Renaissance masterpiece. After all that it rises only eight storeys tall, unlike Pieter Bruegel the Elders Belgian-based Tower of Babel (1564–8), which rises to 10 storeys. Could Europa need to be enshrined in a new building, like so many august EU institutions? Perhaps too, this building could be sited in Paris or Florence? The French say they have more things digitised than they can use. But then the Renaissance began with Florence. Watch this space.

A brilliant ‘first’.
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