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Digital cultural heritage

Cultural heritage has a new breath of life thanks to digital technologies and the internet. Citizens now have opportunities to access cultural material online.

New technologies bring cultural heritage sites back to life. Virtual museums offer visitors the possibility to see art works in context and experience objects or sites inaccessible to the public.

The European Commission Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content & Technology has conducted extensive policy coordination and funding actions to supplement Member States’ cultural policy. These actions cover the areas of digitisation, online access to cultural material and digital preservation.

The role of the European Commission

The European Commission fuels the policy debate and brings stakeholders together to improve the framework conditions for digitisation and digital preservation. It does so through its Recommendation on the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation (.pdf).

The European Commission's Expert Group on Digital Cultural Heritage and Europeana (DCHE) monitors progress towards the implementation of the Commission's Recommendation. The DCHE works with cultural institutions to enrich Europeana. It also facilitates the exchange of information and good practices. 

Current funding instruments

Actions under Horizon 2020 Societal Challenges 6 programmes for 2014-2020 have supported the following topics with an EU funding of around €70 million:


Commission launches public consultation on digital access to European cultural heritage

The Commission has opened a public consultation on the opportunities offered by digital technologies for the cultural heritage sector. Stakeholders and all interested people are invited to provide feedback on the Recommendation of 2011 on digitising cultural material and digital preservation. The aim is to propose a more appropriate policy instrument to support the digital transformation of cultural heritage.

EU Member States sign up to cooperate on digitising cultural heritage

27 European countries signed a Declaration of cooperation on advancing digitisation of cultural heritage. They will work more closely together to better use state-of-the-art digital technologies in addressing risks that Europe’s rich cultural heritage is facing, enhancing its use and visibility, improving citizen engagement, and supporting spillovers in other sectors.

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