The crisis caused by the global coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on our mobility, and it is changing our habits. In the context of such limitations, digital 3D technologies can be an effective solution for keeping our cultural heritage virtually accessible to citizens. Furthermore, 3D digital cultural heritage can provide important opportunities for cultural heritage institutions and for other sectors that re-use such content, including in particular in the tourism sector, for immediate resilience and recovery but also for long-term sustainability.

The Unit for Interactive Technologies, Digital for Culture and Education, part of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT), worked with the Project INCEPTION and Project ARIADNEplus teams on organising a European web conference on 3D digital cultural heritage for resilience, recovery and sustainability. Gail Kent, Director for Data at DG Connect, opened the event with her speech.

The web conference took place on Wednesday 27 May 2020, from 10.00 to 13.00 CET. The conference was streamed live on YouTube, and it is still possible to watch the full conference.The audience participation counts 280-300 steady viewers, a pick of 420, and 2.1k total views in the first 24hours. 

Welcome and opening remarks were held by 

  • Gail Kent, Director for Data, DG CONNECT, European Commission, and
  • Antonia Pasqua Recchia, Adviser at the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage

Those were followed by three sessions. 

1) Resilience: 3D-based digital options when access is suspended or severely restricted - Co-chaired by Rehana Schwinninger-Ladak of the European Commission and and Roberto Di Giulio from project INCEPTION.

  • Louise Haxthausen (Director of the UNESCO Office in Brussels),
  • Julia Pagel (Secretary-General of NEMO – Network of European Museum Organisations),
  • Bogdan Sandric (National Heritage Institute of Romania),
  • Harry Verwayen (Europeana Foundation Executive Director)

2) Recovery: 3D technologies for overcoming the consequences of the crisis and supporting the return to normal - Co-chaired by Cristian Brașoveanu the European Commission and Marco Medici from project INCEPTION.

  • Ismo Malinen (Chief Intendant, Archives and Information Services, Finnish National Heritage Agency),
  • Thomas Flynn (Cultural Heritage Lead at Sketchfab),
  • Jonathan Chemal (CTO Iconem)
  • Daniel Pletinckx (CEO Visual Dimension),
  • Laurent Grumiaux (Executive Producer, Fishing Cactus, Belgium),

3) Sustainability: new, sustainable ways of accessing and understanding cultural heritage with the help of 3D digital technologies - Co-chaired by Anne Bajart of the European Commission and Franco Niccolucci from project ARIADNE.

  • Paolo Ceccarelli (ILAUD International Laboratory of Architecture and Urban Design)
  • Francesco Palumbo (Director of Toscana Promozione Turistica),
  • Sorin Hermon (Cyprus Institute),
  • Kate Fernie (Chair of “3D Content in Europeana” task force),
  • Roberto Di Giulio and Marco Medici (Project INCEPTION), and
  • Franco Niccolucci (Project ARIADNEplus).

The speakers and panelists discussed policies, strategies and initiatives relating to the value and use of 3D digital technologies in the cultural heritage sector in crises. The speakers provided examples of 3D-related good practices or success stories from the lockdown period as starting point for the discussions on how to make full use of 3D digital technologies to support the recovery and establish a new vision for sustainable access to and understanding of our cultural heritage.

The idea of the conference was to make the cultural heritage sector and other sectors everywhere in Europe aware of how they can take advantage of 3D digital cultural heritage for resilience, recovery and sustainability. Also, the conference served to bring them together with the researchers and companies that can provide such technologies and tools and the knowledge needed for deploying and using them effectively and for maximum benefit.