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Mariya Gabriel spearheaded the Heritage Cloud initiative, Source: The European Commission

The EU’s Cultural Heritage Cloud to digitalise all niches of the sector

The EU’s Cultural Heritage Cloud to digitalise all niches of the sector

The initiative promises to level the playing field for knowledge sharing and digitalisation between big and small cultural institutions

Yesterday, the European Commission announced the creation of the European Collaborative Cloud for Cultural Heritage, which aims to empower legacy institutions like museums, conservationists and scholars to work in a connected, collaborative and digital environment. The initiative was spearheaded by EU Commissioner for Innovation and Culture, Mariya Gabriel.

The EU plans to fund the Cloud through Horizon Europe to the tune of 110 million euros in 2023 and 2024. The main goal of the Cloud is to develop a unified set of tools with which institutions can digitalise cultural heritage and share it across Europe.

This would, in turn, breed a new collaborative eco-system of knowledge sharing for the whole sector. One of the main focuses of the Cloud is supposed to be empowering smaller and more remote cultural institutions to take part in a vast interconnected heritage sphere, that was previously limited to bigger players, like national museums, for instance.

Much of Europe’s cultural heritage has not made it to the digital age

According to a document published by the Commission, only 30% to 50% of prominent cultural collections are digitalised, while the number of 3D modelled pieces is significantly lower. At the same time, the methodologies of digitalisation are not standardised and procedures are often run and controlled by third-party companies, not subject to European laws.

This is exactly what the heritage cloud is trying to address, while also giving smaller regional institutions a pipeline into the EU’s funding schemes, that are supposed to help them eventually digitalise their own collections.

The Commission says it will offer tools for digitalisation, studying artworks and documenting data. This package alone should help to improve preservation efforts, conservation and restoration procedures. Furthermore, it will open the door to museums, especially regional and smaller ones, to access Europe’s vast cultural heritage, wrapped up in one platform.

The Cloud for Cultural Heritage will express benefits, especially for the aforementioned smaller cultural institutions, scholars, archivists and conservationists, as quite often they lack the same funding as a national museum, for instance. It would give them the tools to go digital and connect them to the wider heritage context of the bloc.  

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