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A call to EU Member States for a pan-European collection of 3D-digitised heritage assets

Under Twin it!, the Ministries of Culture of the European Union Member States are invited to liaise with their national cultural institutions to submit one 3D digitised heritage asset to the common European data space for cultural heritage, deployed by the Europeana Initiative. The goal of the campaign is to collect and showcase emblematic and high-quality samples of Europe’s cultural assets in 3D, while supporting Member States in their 3D digitisation and preservation efforts.


Making cultural heritage available for future generations to enjoy and be inspired by is a major public policy goal in the EU. 3D technologies offer unprecedented opportunities to advance this objective, widening access to culture, supporting digital preservation and fostering the reuse of Europe's cultural assets.

In the 2019 declaration of cooperation on advancing digitisation of cultural heritage, EU Member States recognised the need for ‘a pan-European initiative for 3D digitisation of cultural heritage artefacts, monuments and sites’. The European Commission Recommendation of 2021 on a common European data space for cultural heritage invites EU Member States to set clear digitisation and digital preservation goals. By 2030, Member States are encouraged to ‘digitise in 3D all monuments and sites deemed at risk, 50 % of the most physically visited cultural and heritage monuments, buildings and sites, and pay special attention to specific categories of heritage assets with low level of digitisation’. It also sets ambitious indicative targets for content contribution to Europeana and the data space, both in terms of new high quality records and 3D assets.

‘Twin it! 3D for Europe’s culture’ is a campaign by the European Commission and the Europeana Initiative, under the auspices of the Swedish and Spanish Presidencies of the Council of the EU, culminating during the Belgian Presidency, to support these goals.

About the campaign

Twin it! will mobilise all 27 EU Member States to submit one 3D digitised heritage asset to the data space by the end of the campaign in 2024. The selected asset can be cultural heritage at risk, among the most physically visited monuments, buildings and sites in that country, or belong to a category with low levels of digitisation, directly supporting the Recommendations’ goals. The 3D digitised asset should be of high technical quality, showcasing European excellence.

This pan-European 3D collection will be showcased during a final high-level event in Brussels, planned in the framework of the Belgian Presidency. The final event will take place alongside a meeting of the Council of the EU so that Ministers of Culture could join and renew their commitment to the Recommendations, Europeana and the data space. The collection would be then hosted in a dedicated online collection.

Twin it! kicks-off on 21 June 2023 during the Swedish Presidency of the EU. It will continue under Spain’s Presidency in the second half of the year and will come to an end during Belgium’s Presidency in 2024.

European Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, said: ‘Europeana currently gives access to 57 million cultural heritage assets with only 0.01% in 3D. Let's take advantage of the opportunities brought by technology to preserve our European cultural heritage for future generations. Today, we are calling Member States to select digital 3D assets to enhance innovation and creation not only in the cultural and creative sectors but also in education, tourism and smart cities. This will benefit and empower people and businesses.’

Harry Verwayen, General Director of the Europeana Foundation, said, ‘3D offers unprecedented opportunities for the cultural heritage sector to fulfil its public mission in the 21st century, staying relevant in today’s fast-changing world. 3D modelling is already being used across Europe to support preservation work, capture imaginations and enable new forms of discovery, or to construct cultural virtual worlds, to name but a few. The Europeana Initiative will continue empowering EU Member States and their cultural heritage institutions to fully harness the potential of 3D for the benefit of Europe’s culture.’

Why 3D matters

Twin it! 3D for Europe’s culture will contribute to creating a shared understanding of the need for 3D, raising awareness of its opportunities and benefits and building capacity among EU Member States and their cultural heritage institutions. Ultimately, it aims to spur a wider uptake of 3D digitisation in Europe’s cultural heritage sector and better equip it to:

  • Broaden access to culture, reaching wider and more diverse audiences. 3D can provide virtual access to inaccessible places - for instance those underwater - or improve accessibility for people with visual impairments by offering, for example, tactile experiences. It can be used to enhance engagement with and public understanding of cultural heritage through tailored, immersive and interactive experiences.

  • Advance Europe’s collective efforts and responsibility to preserve its shared irreplaceable cultural heritage for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations. This cultural wealth is fragile and constantly at risk due to changing climate conditions and other human-caused threats. 3D allows for non-destructive analysis of assets and visualisation of damages, providing crucial information for restoration and conservation.

  • Spur innovation and creativity. 3D digitisation with the highest level of detail can enhance the reuse of cultural heritage material and therefore support the emergence of potential new services and applications in the cultural and creative sectors and well beyond - from education and research to tourism.

To fully capitalise on the potential of 3D for the benefit of our sector, there is a need for multidisciplinary capacity-building of heritage professionals, exchange of practices and pan-European collaboration and networking. Twin it! will provide a platform to advance these objectives.

Get in contact

More on 3D

As we deploy the common European data space for cultural heritage, the Europeana Initiative is committed to encourage the increase of high-quality, usable and accessible 3D content in the data space. In addition to Twin it!, several actions are being taken to improve the support of 3D within the Europeana products and services. These activities are led by a dedicated 3D working group involving Carare, Europeana Foundation, Inception, Photoconsortium, and the Time Machine Organisation.

  • Sourcing 3D material in the data space: we are building the capacities of heritage professionals in creating and making available high-quality 3D data. We are reaching out to new data partners owning 3D content and channel it to the data space. This aims to support the upskilling and engagement of heritage institutions for 3D content aggregation in the data space.

  • Updating Europeana Frameworks to support 3D: we are reviewing the Europeana Publishing Framework, the Europeana Data Model, and the Europeana Licensing Framework to better accommodate 3D models. This enriched policy framing will best address the requirements and opportunities for 3D data aggregation in the data space.

  • Updating our publishing guide to support 3D content: we are creating documentation and support to help cultural heritage institutions digitise their 3d content and publish on the Europeana website, and have created a service desk for questions about 3D content and how to prepare it for submission.


Scanning the world and democratising culture through 3D
3D Scanning with an Artec Eva at The Statens Museum for Kunst
Statens Museum for Kunst
Scan the World

Scanning the world and democratising culture through 3D

Created: 15 September 2023

In support of the Twin It! 3D for Europe’s culture campaign, Jon Beck, manager of Scan the World, tells us how 3D scanning and printing technologies can help in democratising access to culture, reaching more diverse audiences and teaching and learning about cultural heritage.

Discover the potential of 3D and heritage acoustics
David from BL Harley 2897, f. 62
c. 1410- 1419
The British Library
United Kingdom

Discover the potential of 3D and heritage acoustics

Created: 24 August 2023

3D technologies offer opportunities to broaden access to culture, preserve Europe’s shared cultural heritage and spur creativity and innovation. As part of the EuropeanaTech community’s new Pro series, and in support of the ‘Twin It! 3D for Europe’s culture’ campaign, Greg Markus tells us about the developments taking place in the field of 3D and heritage acoustics.