Wikipedia has launched what it calls 'the world's largest photo contest' to increase the number of images of historic sites in its image database - Wikimedia Commons. The contest, called 'Wiki Loves Monuments 2012' will run throughout September 2012, with the best entry receiving a photo tour of Hong Kong, coinciding with the Wikimania 2013 conference. Wikipedia has run photographic competitions before, but this is the biggest yet, and will involve volunteers from more than 30 countries. Click through for more details.

US entrants are being encouraged to concentrate on images of sites from the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The 'Wiki Loves Monuments 2012 - USA' contest is a sub-set of the global competition.

All images must be uploaded to the Wikimedia Commons under a free license, which means that they will be available free of charge, for use by anybody, for any purpose, as long as the photographer is credited. Judges for the competition include photographers and Wikipedia administrators, and the grand prize - a photo tour to Hong Kong - will be announced in December.

Press Release:

Participants in world’s largest photo contest -- Wiki Loves Monuments 2012 -- will upload images under free license for use on Wikipedia.

The White House's south portico (CC-BY-SA-3.0/Matt H. Wade at Wikipedia)

San Francisco -- August 29, 2012 -- Wikipedians around the world will participate in the world’s largest photo contest, Wiki Loves Monuments 2012, from September 1st through 30th. Thousands of volunteers in more than 30 countries will upload photos of historic sites throughout the month, making hundreds of thousands of photos available under a free license on Wikipedia’s image database, Wikimedia Commons (

In last year’s contest, 5,000 photographers from 18 European countries uploaded more than 168,000 photos. This year’s contest will have significantly greater participation, including the United States and many non-European countries for the first time. Volunteer Wikipedians organize the contest in each country, with the winning photos from national contests considered by an international jury in late October. The international jury will announce the top-ten international photos and the overall best picture winner in early December.

“There are millions of historically and culturally significant monuments and buildings around the world, though most of them still have no freely-available images on the Internet,” said Lodewijk Gelauff, one of the founders of the first Wiki Loves Monuments photo contest in 2010. “Wiki Loves Monuments is an important way for volunteers around the world to showcase the cultural heritage in their countries and share these images with everyone through Wikipedia.”

The photos will be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons under a free license, so they can be used by anybody, for any purpose, as long as the photographer is credited. Many of the photos will appear in Wikipedia, the world’s largest encyclopedia, and all will be available to download at no cost.

“In the U.S., anybody can photograph any of the 87,000 sites on the National Register of Historic Places for this contest,” said Peter Ekman, national coordinator for the U.S. part of the contest. “By uploading your photos you are sharing our national heritage with everybody in America and in the rest of the world. The photos will be free to use, and free of cost, forever.”

The Wiki loves Monuments App

In conjunction with the contest this year, the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that operates Wikipedia, has also developed a free Wiki Loves Monuments mobile application for Android smartphones, available in the Google app store. With this app, Wikipedians for the first time will be able to upload photos to Wikimedia sites through their mobile devices. The app displays nearby historic sites automatically, allows users to upload directly through their Wikimedia accounts, and is available in many different languages.

Try the app here:

U.S. Jury

For full bios, see

  • Carol M. Highsmith specializes in capturing America with her camera. Her collection at the Library of Congress has over 20,000 photos that she has donated to the public domain.
  • Heather Moran is the photographer and archivist of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) where she photographs and works to digitize the Muni collection.
  • Rick Prelinger is an archivist, teacher, writer, lecturer and filmmaker. He is the founder and President of Prelinger Archives, co-founder of the Prelinger Library in San Francisco, and Board President of the Internet Archive.
  • Daniel Case has been a Wikipedia editor since 2005, and is now an Administrator. His work has recently focussed on WikiProject:National Register of Historic Places
  • Howard Cheng is an administrator at both Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons who works on the “Picture of the Day,” and “On this Day…” features on Wikipedia’s main page.
  • Daniel Schwen, is an administrator on Wikimedia Commons and contributor of numerous Featured Pictures.
  • David Shankbone is one of Wikipedia’s most influential photographers, whose photos appear in over 5,000 Wikipedia articles in 200 languages

Grand Prize: photo tour to Hong Kong

The top 10 photos and grand prize winner of the international Wiki Loves Monuments contest will be announced in beginning of December. The grand prize winner will be invited to a photo tour in Hong Kong for the annual meeting of Wikipedia editors, photographers, and collaborators: Wikimania 2013.

More information

International contest:
U.S. contest: