26 European countries signed a Declaration of cooperation on advancing digitisation of cultural heritage. They will work more closely together to better use state-of-the-art digital technologies in addressing risks that Europe’s rich cultural heritage is facing, enhancing its use and visibility, improving citizen engagement, and supporting spillovers in other sectors.

Digital Day digitising cultural heritage

The declaration has three pillars of action:

  • A pan-European initiative for 3D digitisation of cultural heritage artefacts, monuments and sites;
  • Re-use of digitised cultural resources to foster citizen engagement, innovative use and spill-overs in other sectors;
  • Enhancing cross-sector and cross-border cooperation and capacity building in the sector of digitised cultural heritage.

Welcoming the signatures, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip, Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, and Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics said:

The digital revolution is leading to new and innovative forms of artistic creation while making culture and heritage more accessible and opening up new ways of enjoying cultural content. Making our cultural heritage widely available in the digital era is vital. It is great news that many Member States will now work closer together to fully leverage the cultural opportunities brought by digital technologies.

Europe has a very rich cultural heritage that embodies our past and inspires us with a sense of a shared history and identity. Digital transformation can play an essential role in enabling cultural experiences, knowledge creation, preservation, and use and re-use of cultural heritage across borders. Digitised cultural objects moreover unlock the potential for broader societal, cohesive and economic benefits of sectors such as tourism, education and creative sectors.

Over the past decade, Member States have actively supported digitisation and digital preservation of cultural heritage and provided access to the corresponding digitised resources for study, use and re-use. Europeana, Europe’s digital platform for cultural heritage, has for example made available over 50 million digital records from the collections of thousands of cultural institutions across Europe. The European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 also created a momentum by bringing all Member States and stakeholders together around Europe’s rich cultural heritage and contributed to enhance its visibility.

Signatory Countries to the Declaration

The Declaration of Cooperation on Cultural Heritage was launched at Digital Day 2019 and signed by the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.

Other countries have since joined the initiative: 

Projects on digital cultural heritage funded by the EU

  • INCEPTION - innovation in 3D modelling of cultural heritage
  • i-MareCulture - Immersive technologies for access to European underwater cultural heritage
  • GRAVITATE – 3D reconstruction of cultural heritage objects
  • Time Machine - Mapping 2000 years of European History
  • ViMM – Virtual Multimodal Museums

Background

European policy initiatives and legislations, like the Recommendation on digitisation and online accessibility and digital preservation of cultural material  and the New European Agenda for Culture, helped Member States develop strategies and improve conditions for the entire digitisation lifecycle. Promoting solutions that make cultural heritage accessible to all, including via digital means, was also one of the objectives of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 and the recent European Framework for Action on Cultural Heritage goes further in this direction. The EU has invested €265 million in research and innovation for advanced digitisation technologies, digital curation and innovative cultural projects.

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