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Media Announcement

Research for the protection of our cultural heritage: a pan-European challenge


Brussels, May 13, 2002

Key words : cultural heritage, candidate countries, environment, protection, technology


'Europe is the origin of most of the culture, the arts, philosophy and science both of ancient and modern time. If Europe were once united in the sharing of its common inheritance, there would be no limit to happiness, to the prosperity and the glory which its people would enjoy.' This was Winston Churchill in 1945, but it's a statement that seems very appropriate in the year 2002, which the United Nations has declared the year of Cultural Heritage. At a time when Europe is preparing to expand with the new candidate countries, European cultural heritage is symbolic of our common cultural identity, and constitutes a fundamental reference point for the new European society. On May 16 2002, a press conference will be held in the Slowacki Theatre in Krakow, with the participation of the Mayor of the city of Krakow and representatives from the European Commission and the European Parliament. At the conference, three EU-funded projects will be presented to the media in order to demonstrate the important role research can play in mobilising all relevant actors and successfully integrating Eastern European expertise to improve the protection of Europe's cultural heritage'.

Cultural heritage is endangered and while everybody seems to agree that something needs to be done to stop or slow down decline, few people know that high level research and technological development can play an essential role. Since 1986, the European Commission has supported the world's biggest international research programme dedicated to the protection of cultural heritage against environmental deterioration. As environmental effects have no frontiers, the Member States and the candidate countries have everything to gain by combining their efforts and resources in a co-ordinated way.

2002 is not only the United Nations year of cultural heritage but it is also the year of the Fifth European Commission Research Conference on Cultural Heritage, which this year will be held in Krakow (Poland). Previous conferences have always been held in European cities with a rich cultural heritage like Rome, Aachen, Santiago de Compostela and Strasbourg. This is the first time that such a conference will take place in a candidate country. Krakow appears to be an ideal venue, since it is where "east meets west" on many levels: it is the city of science where young Nicolaus Copernicus studied to develop later the heliocentric model of our universe, it is also the most western point reached by the art of Byzantine iconography and the furthest eastern site for mediaeval stained-glass windows. Krakow is also an example of the skilful integration of a rich cultural heritage in a living and vibrant city.

A press conference will be held in conjunction with this major European event. This will be complemented with the showing of a new video on three selected EC-funded research projects on cultural heritage, in which scientists and other stakeholders from candidate countries participated. These three projects cover issues as varied as the conservation of fake Baroque marble imitations in churches (ENVIART) and the preservation of photographs and paper against the attack of light (LIDO), as well as the presentation of the first centre of excellence to establish a pan-European network on cultural heritage issues (ARCCHIP). Researchers involved in these projects - coming from Poland itself, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Germany, France, Belgium, etc - will be available to talk to the press.

More information on the three EC Research projects can be found in the Annex.

Notes for editors: Journalists wishing to attend should contact Julia Acevedo (see below) or register with : Ilse Lambrechts (Tél.: +32.2.7379524 - Fax: +32.2.7379501 - Mobile: +32.476.981155, E-mail:, at Hill and Knowlton International, working under contract of the EC for this event.

For further information concerning the projects presented, please contact:

  • Johanna Leissner, Scientific officer, Environment Programme Research DG,
    Tel : +32 2 295 49 57; Fax : +32 2 296 05 88 - E-mail :

For further information concerning the press event, please contact:

For more information on the Research Directorate General of the European Commission, and particularly press releases, visit our website at


Project summaries

The ENVIART project is devoted to the sensitive baroque stucco marble. The project team from Germany, Poland, Austria and Belgium investigated its structure, properties and deterioration mechanisms to develop appropriate conservation strategies. The results were obtained by laboratory experiments and in situ from a masterpiece of European baroque architecture, the Dukes Chapel in Krzeszow (Poland). The results from ENVIART project were successfully implemented in the restoration of the Dukes Chapel which started after completion of the project.

The LiDO project deals with the development and application of light dosimeters. This new tool contains light sensitive dyes in a polymeric matrix on paper or glass support and it will provide conservators and curators with information on the effect of light in museum to protect light sensitive artistic materials like photographs or textiles. The paper based light dosimeters containing a red or a blue dye are already patented and are applied in situ as prototypes. The effect of light exposure damage can be seen by the naked eye because the dyes are fading. The degree of fading will correspond to certain light levels. The project partners come from Germany, France, Italy, the Czech Republic and the UK.

The third project is the Advanced Research Centre for Cultural Heritage Interdisciplinary Project (ARCCHIP) - the first Centre of Excellence for cultural heritage in Eastern Europe and funded by the European Commission. The tasks of this centre are:

  • summarising state-of-the-art in selected areas of research in the problems of European cultural heritage study, safeguarding and integration into social and economic sustainability measures, especially in the countries in pre-accession to the EU;
  • continuously improves up-to-date mutual information about scientific achievements and capacity of research facilities in the pre-accession to the EU countries and supports transition of this information to the EU countries as well as to the countries of Community's external policy interests;
  • helps to select themes for medium term joint or concerted research in the field of cultural heritage and to inform about relevant national and international funding possibilities;
  • helps to support cultural heritage research orientation and training of teachers necessary for a sound economic and social local or regional development; helps to establish networking and twinning arrangements and links among pre-accession to the EU countries, as well as, between them and the EU countries in the area of cultural heritage research;
  • helps to materialise national attempts in restructuring of the science and technology sector in the CEEC, e.g. acting as a National Research Centre.

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