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Digital cultural heritage

Digital cultural heritage is about caring for the pastís cultural heritage, the traditional materials, and making it meaningful for the world of today and tomorrow in an online environment. The digitisation of originals, combined with detailed, structured digital descriptions, allows for a wealth of co-operative research, new approaches and connections, and deeper insights. Digital cultural heritage, while harnessing a new environment, continues to bring primary research data (mainly for the Humanities, and it continues to invite new research. (Digital Cultural Heritage Forum)

Nowadays, for most museums, libraries, archives and other cultural institutions, digitization of cultural heritage is a crucial aspect of their business operations. The main objectives of this are:

  • Providing access to heritage objects, not only by digitization but also by providing efficient and user friendly tools for exploration and discovery, usually in an innovative online environment, making use of the latest web technologies. For cultural institutions, this is a way to open up their collections to a wider audience and to enable interactions with their audiences and stimulate them to become more actively involved with their colectiuons, for example through the use of social media. An example of this approach is the Rijksstudio of the Dutch Rijksmuseum.
  • Assuring long-term preservation of heritage objects, to ensure that they are not only available now, but also for future use.
  • Combining digitized collections using linked data techniques.
  • Making cultural data available for humanities research. Thus, digital cultural heritage is a focus point of many academic institutions and project groups that study cultural heritage as well.

N.B. The concept of digital cultural heritage may also refer to the preservation of born-digital cultural heritage, like a digital archive, digital photographs, a website or a collection of tweets.

Further information


Visualization of the Dutch National Strategy for Digital Heritage, which was drawn up by the Dutch Digital Heritage Network, (Netwerk Digitaal Erfgoed or 'NDE'), an open partnership that focuses on developing a system of national facilities and services for improving the visibility, usability, and sustainability of digital heritage.

Digitaal erfgoed in opmars  
Information leaflet of the DEN Foundation (Digitaal Erfgoed Nederland / Digital Heritage Netherlands), the Dutch knowledge center for digital heritage. N.B. Most information on the website of DEN is given in Dutch.

Digital Cultural Heritage Forum
In the Forum for Digital Cultural Heritage, LIBER (a European netwrok of research libraries) collaborates closely with the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL), which focuses on cultural heritage in the form of hand-written and printed books.

Born digital cultural heritage is endangered heritage
Roadmap to a generic workflow for born digital heritage in the domains of art, film, photography and architecture.

Charter on the Preservation of Digital Heritage
UNESCO document, dated 15 October 2003, about born digital heritage. See also UNESCO's document Concept of Digital Heritage.

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