2 minutes to read Posted on Friday October 1, 2021

Updated on Monday October 18, 2021

portrait of Zuzanna Ciesielska

Zuzanna Ciesielska

Open Culture Specialist , Centrum Cyfrowe Foundation

portrait of Maria Drabczyk

Maria Drabczyk

Head of policy and advocacy, Board member , Centrum Cyfrowe

portrait of Aleksandra Janus

Aleksandra Janus

Member of the Board, director of Open Culture Studio , Centrum Cyfrowe Foundation

Exploring the impact of digital cultural heritage reuse: an InDICEs analysis

Colleagues from the inDICEs project share the findings of a recent report into the social, economic and cultural value of digital cultural heritage. 

A painting of two women and a man in conversation in an Italiante landscape.
Title: Of One Heart
Date: 1830
Institution: Rijksmuseum
Country: Netherlands
Public Domain

About the report 

One of the goals of the inDICEs project is to understand how value is being created through the use of digital heritage resources. Knowing more about this value will help us to advocate for policies that support the development of new or improved services, initiatives and products that create even more impact through their added cultural, social and economic value. 

As part of this, we are developing policy recommendations, guidelines, how-to's and other tools to support systemic changes that strengthen the potential of cultural heritage institutions. We have recently worked on a Policy analysis of value chains for Culture Heritage Institutions in the Digital Single Market

For the report, we wanted to take the changing social and economic role and responsibilities of cultural heritage institutions, as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, into consideration. We decided to look at the culture heritage sector in the context of the impact it has on other sectors. We based the report on case studies analysis of the (re)use of digital cultural heritage to foster understanding of current business models of interaction between culture heritage institutions and creative industries and how such models can reinforce access to culture and European identity. You can check out our open spreadsheet with case studies collected and contribute to it! 

Findings and recommendations

We emerged with a number of recommendations which can help cultural heritage institutions to make strategic decisions to increase their positive contributions to the creative industries and reinforce access to culture. Below you can read the key points from the summary of the report (p.15 - 19) and access it in full!

Quality-focused approach in the cultural heritage sector 

The digitisation of cultural heritage remains a significant issue for the whole cultural heritage sector. It is essential that while increasing the volume of digitised heritage, cultural heritage institutions also become more vigilant about the quality of the digitised content and its copyright. 

There is a growing demand from various stakeholders (including educators, researchers, cultural and creative sector, IT) for rich metadata and high-quality digital items, allowing for their use and reuse within the context of both cultural heritage and other sectors.

Museums as market reuse facilitators and promoters 

Our research showed that museums are the most active (if not to say dominant) actors in executing reuse projects. However, they may be reluctant to collaborate with other sectors. 

We suggest developing ‘regranting’ schemes that would make use of the experience and expertise of museums in order to encourage and support reuse outside of the institutional context. This would, for example, see museums and other cultural heritage institutions as the operators of open calls targeted (mostly but not exclusively) at firms operating within the creative sectors.

Promoting collaborative reuse of digital cultural heritage

As well as promoting the reuse of digital cultural resources (both content and data) among other sectors it is also crucial  to promote and encourage cross-sectoral collaboration on the reuse of digital cultural heritage. 

Instead of conducting digital projects in the model where an institution hires a contractor (such as a software developer), it would be beneficial to encourage a more collaborative approach where projects are developed in even closer partnerships. Initiatives such as collaborative labs, hackathons and incubation projects could be a way to stimulate such collaborations.

Digital transformation with the help of digital cultural heritage

Ongoing policy debates on the European strategy for data and related issues of data governance need to include digital heritage, considered as a specific type of data. 

As part of the European data strategy, a digital heritage data space is needed to fully support the development of modern data access, sharing and use practices in the cultural heritage sector, other public sectors (such as education or research), and creative and cultural sectors (both public and commercial). 

Shared platforms and innovative tools to reach audiences faster 

While many institutions across Europe invest time and effort to bring their collections online, this does not always go hand in hand with raising audience awareness about what is actually offered online and how it can be used. 

Although aggregators have been around for some time now, many institutions still publish their collections using solely (or primarily) their own websites/platforms, meaning that they are not yet capitalising on the opportunity to bring their content to much wider audiences. This underlines the importance of platforms such as Europeana that give the global audience an easy-to-use tool to browse Europe’s heritage collections, discover new institutions and reuse their content. 

Digital cultural heritage has educational value

Remote education during the pandemic has created opportunities for much greater use of digital resources, including cultural heritage. In a study conducted by Centrum Cyfrowe in September 2020 in Poland, 35% of teachers said that while teaching remotely, they had used resources from cultural heritage institutions – making them one of the top five most used sources of educational content. 

This requires dedicated programs that support the reuse of cultural heritage collections by educators, educational systems and institutions, or educational start-ups.

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