Important legal notice
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Cultural heritage
Cultural heritage - Conserving our common legato
“Using high-technology to monitor the condition of Europe’s precious works of art”

The problem

Europe’s works of art, such as paintings and sculptures, are the lifeblood of Europe’s cultural heritage. Museums put them on display and, increasingly, loan them out to other institutions. However, exhibiting art and moving it from place to place causes problems. Repeated handling, the need for conservation treatments and exposure to sudden environmental and climatic changes can all take their toll on old and delicate objects. Art in transit is also under threat from mishandling and fraud. Conservators need to monitor the condition of artwork in a way that responds to these issues.

MULTIENCODE  Monitoring the health of Europe’s works of art


The MULTIENCODE project aims to create a new way of monitoring the condition of artworks by using the latest holographic technology. The project will produce innovative methods and tools which will allow conservators to assess the conservation state of an object and the need for any treatment; illustrate any new damage; monitor the impact of transport; and confirm a piece’s originality. An object would be scanned and its distinct features encoded holographically before being digitally archived. The coded data can then be easily compared with past and future entries to assess changes to the object.

Contribution to policy development:

  • The project will help preserve Europe’s cultural heritage, a priority laid down in EU treaties and policies.
  • By protecting important works of art that are on show in museums and galleries, MULTIENCODE will bolster EU education and quality of life policies.

Project deliverables

  • Definition of operational parameters based on the project’s integrated assessment procedure – March 2006
  • Implementation of diagnostic procedures to show the MULTIENCODE system can work –
    June 2006
  • Successful operation of laboratory prototype – September 2006
  • Verify capability of multi-functional sensor – March 2007
  • Production of pre-industrial prototype – September 2007


  • Publication of scientific achievements in specialised and general journals – as required
  • Exchanging information with consortia in related fields, such as optics, laser engineering, applied metrology – as required
  • Running workshops and a public demonstration of finished prototype – September 2007
  • Involvement of end-users in evaluation and demonstration phases

Technical information

Project acronym: MULTIENCODE
Project’s official full title: Multifunctional encoding system for assessment of moveable cultural heritage
Research priority: 3.6. The protection of cultural heritage and associated conservation strategies
Specific webpage: Not yet available
Proposal/contract no: 006427
Start date: 1 September 2005
Kick off meeting: 14 September 2005
Completion date: 31 October 2008
European Commission scientific officer: Adèle Lydon,

Name: Foundation for Research and Technology/ Institute for Electronic Structure and Laser
Abbreviated name: FORTH/IESL
Address: PO Box 1527, GR-711 Heraklion
Country: Greece
Tel: +30 2810 391300
Fax: +30 2810 391305


Name: Universitat Stuttgart, Institute fur Technische Optik
Abbreviated name: ITO
Country: Germany

Name: Université de Liège – Centre Spatial de Liège
Abbreviated name: ULG
Country: Belgium

Abbreviated name: OPT
Country: Belgium

Name: National Gallery of Athens – Alexandros Soutzos Museum
Abbreviated name: EPMAS
Country: Greece

Name: Tate Gallery
Abbreviated name: TATE
Country: United Kingdom