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Our pages provide information about EC funded research in new information technologies for applications in the cultural and scientific heritage sector.
We aim to providean overview of the Unit's current activities( Framework Programme 6
) as well as of its past activities( Framework Programme 4 & 5).

The DigiCult siteis part of
CORDIS which provides information on all Research and Technological Development(RTD) activities of the European Union.


What is DigiCult? - What we do - Why go DigiCult? - DigiCult in figures

What is DigiCult?

' Digi tal Heritage and Cult ural Content' is a domain of research activity in the Information Society Technologies (IST) Programme, a European Commission programme addressing the pervasion of Information andCommunication Technologies (ICT) into all aspects of the European citizen's life. This programme was part of the Fifth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (RTD) which run from 1998-2002, and continues to exist as a key thematic priority area within the6th Framework Programme (2002-2006).

Research in the DigiCult domain fosters the development of innovative technological tools and systems for the exploitation of both traditional and digital Cultural Heritage resources.The latter comprise resources that have either been created as digital substitutes to the original objects held by cultural or scientific institutions (i.e. libraries,museums,archives, research centres, universities etc.) or are born digital, that is they have been created with the help of information and communication technologies and exist only in digital form.

Based upon the premise that cultural and scientific heritage resources are of fundamental value for Europe's present and future, both as a unique knowledge basis and in terms of their commercial utilisation, DigiCult research work is driven by the need to ensure that institutions holding such resources fully exploit the opportunities created by the advent of digital technologies for providing quality access by all European citizens to them, as well as for preserving them for the future.

Research projects and initiatives undertaken in this context are coordinated by the Cultural Heritage Applications Unit in the Directorate General Information Society, in Luxembourg.

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What we do

With a research focus on eCulture and eScience (i.e. culture and science in a networked environment), the DG INFSO Cultural Heritage Applications Unit works to establish a lasting infrastructure of technologies, guidelines, standards, human and institutional networks that will support and extend the role of Europe's libraries, museums and archives in the digital age. Research activities managed by our Unit under the IST Programme have the following objectives:

  • Enhancing access to and preservation of cultural and scientific heritage resources - particularly those in digital form- thus supporting Europe's heritage institutions and organisations in their core functions
  • Accelerating the appropriation of advanced technologies byEurope's libraries, museums and archives
  • Encouraging convergence in technical approaches and applications for various cultural institutions and networked services by promoting agreement on standards and guidelines critical to managing, preserving and delivering digital cultural and scientific content
  • Fostering increased co-operation between cultural and scientific content holders, i.e. libraries, archives, museums, and the research community or technological application developers, i.e. research centres, academic institutions, ICT companies etc.

Research topics addressed by DigiCult projects under the Fifth Framework Programme have included the following:

  • Supporting digital libraries across Europe by networking and integrating cultural and scientific collections of digitised resources to create new services and infrastructures; by exploiting and preserving physical and digital assets ranging from manuscripts to film and broadcast archives; by developing new business models for accessing and using scientific and cultural resources.
  • Improving access by the wider public , including schoolchildren and tourists, to cultural and scientific assets in museums, libraries and archives through the use of innovative technologies, such as mobiles, digitisation techniques and Internet support.
  • Developing new ways of representing, experiencing and preserving the past through the use of leading edge technologies (virtual reality, 3Dvisualisation). Applications include virtual reconstructions , interactive educational games based on rebuilt historical environments etc.
  • Empowering individuals and small groups in local communities to share and document common interests, memories,views of their local heritage, thus building a living image of regional heritage across Europe. Relevant projects include CHIMER , CIPHER , COINE .

Since 1999, the Unit has developed a portfolio of RTD and take-up projects, while also funding several excellence or awareness-raising networks on the use of new technologies by libraries, museums and archives. In addition to its IST activities, the Unit has undertaken an action that has sprung up from the e Europe initiative and concerns the coordination of digitization programmes in Member States. Finally, the Unit still monitors on-going projects and activities under the former Fourth Framework Programme.

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Who we work with

Encouraging European institutions and organisations holding cultural and scientific content, research communities and the multimedia industrie to form collaborative partnerships is a strategic goal in the DigiCult field. Projects bring together a wide range of actors from the public and the private sector, including libraries, museums and galleries, archives, public bodies responsible for the management of archaeological sites or of data archives, archives of broadcast, film and video material, educational institutions (schools, universities) and research centres, electronic publishers, information and telecommunications companies, multimedia manufacturers and producers.

Among all parties involved in the research process, cultural institutions hold a prominent position: not only do they contribute with the valuable collections they hold in trust, but they also capitalise on the knowledge and expertise of curators, librarians and archivists, while they further build on the skills, know-how and resources of information and communication technology partners in order to develop new types of products and services and thus meet the challenges of the digital age.

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Why go DigiCult?

Going DigiCult means devising, adopting and making use of innovative methods and facilities for managing, accessing, interpreting and preserving Europe's rich cultural and scientific heritage. It is about turning information lying in various heritage repositories into active knowledge, readily accessible through new channels, such as the Internet or mobile phones, and specific to our needs.

DigiCult research has yielded advanced, 'intelligent', highly interactive tools and user-centred services based on sophisticated technologies (e.g. virtual, augmented reality etc) that have been applied to various Cultural Heritage field, including music, film, literary, architectural and visual arts heritage, enhancing thus the competences and promoting the work of relevant institutions and professionals.At the same time, DigiCult applications have created new opportunities for learning and entertainment among schoolchildren, university students, lifelong learners, art lovers and collectors, tourists and other user groups. After all, going DigiCult is about making heritage available at the click of the mouse!

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Who benefits and how

Libraries, museums and archives may benefit from DigiCult applications in a number of ways. They can use computer technologies and telecommunications infrastructures to:

  • Improve access to their holdings, both quantitatively (i.e. by making their resources more widely accessible) and qualitatively (i.e. by providing meaningful, contextualised resources that relate to people's lives, by encouraging users' interaction, challenging their creativity).
  • Reach out to special target groups (e.g. youngsters, people with access disabilities, people living in disadvantaged areas)
  • Enhance their educational services (e.g. by developing on-line material for course reading)
  • Secure accessibility of their resources for the future (i.e. long-term preservation of complex digital exhibits, such as immersive environments)
  • Generate revenue from exploiting their digital collections commercially on the Web etc.
  • A wide variety of end-user groups, including experts and the wider public, are enabled to:
  • Search and retrieve easily high-quality information on heritage from on-line databases useful for e-learning or academic research.
  • Manipulate digital artefacts on line (e.g. build their own digital collections) and participate in communities of interest (e.g. by contributing and documenting their personal views and memories in building a digital regional history archive).
  • Enjoy new interactive Cultural Heritage services and customised facilities to access and 'experience' their heritage (e.g. new forms of cultural games, interactive tour guides enabling navigation to museum displays through the Internet, reality-based representations of historical sites etc.).

Click here to find out about project results under FP5.

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DigiCult in figures

In the course of the Fifth Framework Programme, 8 calls for proposals were launched in the Information Society Technologies Programme, from which110 DigiCult projects were selected and granted funding, amounting to a total of89.7 MEUR.These projects brought together 688 partners from 35 countries, representing 506 different organisations and institutions from both the private and public sector (40%cultural actors, 30%industry and 30%research).

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