| Cultural heritage meets practice

The conference highlighted more than 20 years of EU involvement in cultural heritage preservation, with the EU having provided over €130 million to more than 120 projects. A ‘demonstration salon’ at the conference showed some of the successes and novel tools brought to the market for the preservation of cultural heritage with the support of EU and national funding.

The exhibition demonstrated that many identification, diagnosis and damage assessment tools, devices and prototypes issued from EC-co-funded research projects are now near the market. Some examples include: a ‘dew sensor’ which directly detects condensation on surfaces (Vidrio project and spin-off), the SurveNIR instrument and software which aims to detect the degradation of paper for survey purposes, the MULTIENCODE project instrumentation which enables monitoring of the condition of artwork over time, the AUTHENTICO laser instrumentation to detect olfactory markers of solid substances undetectable under normal conditions and the FING-ART PRINT device for non-contact measurement of roughness and reflectance spectra (colour) of artwork, making it difficult to forge.

In addition to the demonstration salon, seven workshops were organised. These workshops allowed experts and end-users to come together and share ideas and experiences. Such interaction between researchers and conservators, curators and entrepreneurs ensures that knowledge gain through research projects can be effectively transferred to wider commercial use.

The conference wrapped up with a declaration on the importance of cultural heritage preservation. In particular it stressed the importance of:

  • promoting strategies, instruments, funding mechanisms and exploitation measures to ensure research results are adopted in practice,
  • embedding further heritage research within European Research Framework Programmes and other funding schemes,
  • the challenge in the EU Sustainable Development Strategy of integrating the safeguarding of cultural heritage.

Integration of multi- and inter-disciplinary research into practice involves the contribution of all key actors in the field of research and education, as well as end-users and stakeholders, including industry and SMEs, and will contribute to the European Research Area and to the competitiveness of the EU knowledge-based economy in line with the Lisbon Strategy.

The declaration urges all stakeholders to be prepared to address the effects of demographic change, increased tourist numbers and damage arising from more frequent natural disasters and it calls for the promotion of a holistic management of heritage which meets the priorities of the 20/20/20 goal of Europe's climate change policy.