Virtual museums and social platform on European digital heritage, memory, identity and cultural interaction

Specific Challenge

ICT changes the way cultural digital resources are created, disseminated, preserved and (re)used. It empowers different types of users to engage with cultural digital resources, for example through web discovery interfaces representing a wealth of information from collections (archives, scientific collection, museums, art galleries, visual arts etc.) enabling their re-use and re-purposing according to users' needs and inputs. The Virtual Museum (VM) is not a real museum transposed to the web, nor an archive or a database of virtual digital assets but a provider of information on top of being an exhibition room. VM provide opportunities for people to access digital content before, during and after a visit in a range of digital ‘encounters’. Virtual museum is technologically demanding especially in terms of virtual and augmented reality and storytelling authoring tools which must covers various types of digital creations including virtual reality and 3D experiences, located online, in museums or on heritage sites. The challenge will be to give further emphasis on improving access, establishing meaningful narratives for collections and displays and story-led interpretation by the development of VM. It will also address the fundamental issues that are required to make this happen e.g. image rights, licencing and the ability of museums to support new ICT technology.

The emergence of new social paradigms in the area of European Heritage induce the creation of specific social platforms that will encourage an active participation of a large number of stakeholders aiming at a better understanding of the European cultural heritage. Moreover it should facilitate and support a better understanding of the past to better build our future. The challenge is to support the multidisciplinary awareness needed for providing a comprehensive framework for the accessibility, preservation, participatory and sustainable management of cultural resources and assets, based on a holistic, social understanding of European culture and cultural heritage. This challenge will contribute to the debate over these issues and opportunities by facilitating an open dialogue on how technological changes, new business models and scientific progress impact and accelerate developments, including social change, determine policy changes, and support new investments (both private and public) involving diverse actors with different stakes and agendas.

Researching digital cultural heritage is of key, long-term importance to Europe in order to form a robust knowledge base on how cultural heritage may develop in the 21st century. This will enable creative and innovative partnerships between museums, creative industries and public-domain areas such as education with transfer value to other socio-cultural areas and will advance strategies for heritage institutions, including museums, to harness transversal citizen resources and thus enhance their benefit to wider society.


a) Research and Innovation Actions

European cultural heritage is being radically transformed with the wide adoption of digital media used for engagement, participation and inclusion. Researching these transformations encompass the engagements of citizens in their own formation of heritage and the options for heritage institutions to capitalize on the new forms of communication and interaction.

The real potentiality of a virtual museum is in the creation of a personalized, immersive, interactive ways to enhance our understanding of the world around us. The audio-visual narrative is one of the best means to effectively communicate about objects in a museum to the ordinary visitor. Therefore, actions will focus on the development of highly innovative technologies, methods and ICT tools to significantly improve the ‘digital encounter’ including quality of images, sonic narratives, the display and interactivity with digital objects. Besides, actions should research and create new ways of personalised storytelling, interactivity and adaptive guidance, bridging the physical and the digital world. The technology resulting from the research should be validated in real life environments. During test and validation phases, due attention has to be paid to scalability, portability, transmedia and interoperability of the technologies proposed and the support needed when implemented. Furthermore, social media tools should be integrated into the VM platform in order to facilitate exchange of information among users.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the order of EUR 2.5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. This does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

b) Coordination and Support Action[[This activity is directly aimed at supporting the development and implementation of evidence base for R&I policies and supporting various groups of stakeholders. It is excluded from the delegation to Research Executive Agency and will be implemented by the Commission services.]]

The scope of this action is to develop and maintain a sustainable platform engaging a large number of key actors, stakeholders and communities of practices on how to improve the collaboration and comprehension among the entire community, in order to build up a common roadmap for future activities and explore how these new encounters can be evaluated to understand the models. The platform should engage - and be open to all - practitioners and stakeholders wishing to contribute to decision making processes, agree on objectives and priorities, share experiences, policies and practices. Partnership and collaboration between public and private stakeholders should be encouraged. The platform will concretise its action through the organisation of workshops, conferences or any other awareness-raising actions.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution of EUR 1 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. This does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact

Virtual Museums and Social Platform are accessible for everyone, breaking the restrictions of geography and time. VM & SP will help to increase European citizens' curiosity for art and their understanding of cultural heritage. VM & SP will support access to culture and citizens' engagement with culture in less developed regions.

Researchers and scholars will benefit from the new possibilities to shape, access and study European Culture.

Synergies between virtual and traditional museums and cultural institutions will support the economic growth of the sector as measurable impacts will be achieved beyond the beneficiaries of the funded projects.

Application date
Social sciences