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


About the report

One of the objectives of the inDICEs project is to understand how value is created through the use of digital heritage resources. Knowing more about this value will help us 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.

Within this framework, we develop policy recommendations, guidelines, practical guides and other tools to support systemic changes that strengthen the potential of cultural heritage institutions. We recently worked on a policy analysis of value chains for cultural heritage institutions in the digital single market.

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

Findings and recommendations

We came out with a number of recommendations that can help cultural heritage institutions make strategic decisions to increase their positive contributions to the creative industries and enhance access to culture. Below you can read the key points of the report summary (p.15 – 19) and access it in its entirety!

Quality approach in the cultural heritage sector

The digitization of cultural heritage remains an important issue for the entire cultural heritage sector. It is essential that while increasing the volume of digitized heritage, cultural heritage institutions also become more vigilant about the quality of digitized 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 elements, allowing their use and reuse in the context of the cultural heritage and other sectors.

Museums as enablers and promoters of market reuse

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

We suggest developing “grant” programs that would use the experience and expertise of museums to encourage and support reuse outside the institutional context. This would allow, for example, to consider museums and other cultural heritage institutions as operators of open calls targeting (mainly but not exclusively) companies operating in the creative sectors.

Promote the collaborative reuse of digital cultural heritage

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

Instead of running digital projects in the model where an institution hires an entrepreneur (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 using digital cultural heritage

Ongoing political debates on the European data strategy and related data governance issues must include digital heritage, seen as a specific type of data.

Within the framework of the European Data Strategy, a digital heritage data space is necessary to fully support the development of modern practices of access, sharing and use of data in the cultural heritage sector, others public sectors (such as education or research) and creative and cultural activities. sectors (public and commercial).

Shared platforms and innovative tools to reach audiences more quickly

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

Although aggregators have been around for some time now, many institutions still publish their collections using only (or mostly) their own websites / platforms, which means they are not yet taking the opportunity to deliver their content. to a much larger audience. This underlines the importance of platforms such as Europeana which provide the global public with an easy-to-use tool for browsing European heritage collections, discovering new institutions and reusing their content.

Digital cultural heritage has educational value

Distance 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 by teaching at a distance, they had used resources from cultural heritage institutions, making it one of the five sources of content most widely used teaching methods.

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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