Curation of digital assets and advanced digitisation


Horizon 2020 Framework Programme CLOSED


In cultural heritage institutions, the quantity of digital content is growing exponentially, together with the potential of new digital technology performance. This large amount of data presents an increasing challenge of management to curators. Work in this area should enable heritage institutions scholars and practioners to fully use the potential of digital technologies for managing, studying, conserving, restoring, making accessible, interlinking, disseminating and preserving their collections.

On the other hand, the technological advancement presents opportunities, namely with regard to digitisation. So far, digitisation focused mainly on capturing the visual appearance of individual objects, collections or sites. There is a real need to establish a comprehensive picture of the studied assets, capturing and re-creating not only visual and structural information, but also stories and experiences (stored in language data), together with their cultural and socio-historical context, as well as their evolution over time. In addition, the current approach to digitisation is often localised and static: single experts perform the digitisation and the archiving; the digitised cultural tangible (artefacts, historical sites) and intangible resources (stories, experiences, written memory of the society) are rarely consolidated and interlinked, preventing deeper exploitation of the resources through wider searchability via other domains, networks or languages.


Research and Innovation Action (2020):

Departing from the current paradigm of localised and static archiving, the scope is to develop one or more of the following new technologies and methods:

In order to develop the concept of active digital resources, sound and comprehensive documentation management tools are needed that continuously consolidate digital assets. This will be achieved through capturing over time, results stemming from a variety of digitisation methods connected to active sensor networks or to semantic web technologies. This will allow for analysis and semantic evaluation of digital assets and resources of cultural heritage.

Consolidation takes also into account the relevance of historical sources (e.g. monuments and documents) and resources (e.g. studies on how language transmits our cultural memory of events) and that a resource evolves over time through cultural impact, research and curation (e.g. studies on how culture shaped a specific collection or how historical events shaped spaces). The continuous consolidation should support the collaboration of multiple actors (IT and SSH) providing both sample data and knowledge to the collaborative framework.

Time and space are core aspects of the history of cultural heritage collections. In addition to the audio-visual appearance, digitisation will include the related cultural, historical, social evolution and events. It will need to develop the accessibility of the semantic content of the resources. Through connecting the tangible and intangible, stories will emerge as a means to enhance our understanding of cultural heritage.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the order of EUR 3 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact

The proposals should demonstrate how the new technologies, methods and data formats would help to present cultural and historic remains and memories in a comprehensive and attractive though scientifically based way, supporting the promotion of Europe’s cultural heritage. Proposals should also show how the preservation and analysis of the tangible and intangible resources of our cultural heritage would enhance our understanding of cultural history. They should also deliver solutions to the problem that language change hampers static ways of retrieving the information from historic data collections. The economic impact for the creative industries and the scientific impact for cultural institutions who own content will include gains from use and re-use of digital assets.

The main area of expected impact will be in the better promotion of Europe’s cultural heritage, such as through presenting cultural and historic remains and memories (in a comprehensive and attractive way using new technologies, methods and data formats, including solutions to the problem of language when retrieving information from historic data collections. Curating digital assets will also offer the opportunity to preserve study and disseminate the memory of cultural heritage that underwent dispersal or destroyed. The preservation and analysis of the tangible and intangible resources of our cultural heritage will enhance our understanding of cultural history, and bring economic impact for creative industries and for cultural institutions owning content, such as from the use and re-use of digital assets.

Cross-cutting Priorities:

Socio-economic science and humanities

Application date
Humanities : Anthropology & Ethnology, Archaeology, Architecture and urbanism, Arts and Art history, Classical Studies, History, Digital humanities and big data
Social sciences : Geography, Management and Public administration, Psychology & Cognitive Sciences, Information and Communication Sciences, Sociology
Other : Computer science