European Heritage Days

Journées européennes du patrimoine
When Science Meets Heritage: How Digitisation Helps Preserve European Cultural Heritage

The revolutionary potential of technology has been demonstrated in the field of cultural heritage in various different ways. From Google Cultural Institute, which is one of the largest global portals dedicated to digitisation of heritage and culture, to various EU-funded projects and university research, numerous initiatives were launched in the past few years to improve the outlook for heritage preservation in future.

In Europe, a number of heritage professionals and technology researchers currently work on digitisation projects that can enhance heritage conservation methodologies and engage people in cultural exploration. Among the most recent innovations, an app called COOLTURA was released in January 2016 with an aim to engage general public in cultural events and experiences. The app has been designed through the EU-funded TAG CLOUD project whose main objective is to help develop personalised cultural experiences by incorporating cloud computing information into digital content of different objects including artefacts, monuments, historic sites, etc.

In addition to TAG CLOUD Project, another important EU-funded initiative that has helped digitising cultural heritage is the PRESIOUS Project launched back in 2014. After years of studying the needs of cultural heritage in Europe, the PRESIOUS researchers developed robust technologies to support 3D cultural heritage object repair and analysis. PRESIOUS continues to help not only preserve numerous artefacts, but also gather relevant research information for future project improvements.

Similar to PRESIOUS, the project COSCH (Colour and Space in Cultural Heritage) aims to further improve techniques for precise and complete documentation of cultural heritage artefacts. Using the latest optical measuring techniques and imaging for the purpose of documenting artefacts, COSCH enables long-term preservation of objects valuable for research in the field of cultural heritage.

With such a major transformation taking place in the fields of culture and heritage, a number of questions related to the imminent reinvention of cultural institutions in the digital world remain unanswered. An initiative created to help solve this problem is the RICHES project, brings “cultural heritage and people together in a changing Europe and finding new ways of engaging with heritage in a digital world.” Launched in 2014 at EBN in Brussels, RICHES continues to expand its network of partners and researchers dedicated to helping cultural institutions adapt to the digital age.

The digitisation of cultural heritage increasingly redefines multiple aspects of heritage conservation, promotion and management, which is why it is refreshing to see so many initiatives that blend scientific and cultural research.  While some traditional restoration and conservation techniques still work for cultural heritage preservation, the modern age brings a variety of new methods to make these processes more efficient. More importantly, these new technologies and a growing focus on digitisation enable more people to explore history and heritage, which is the ultimate goal of the work in the field.