The tech industry has exploded over the last 20 years. The rise of start ups in just the last decade have given the world ways to more easily share information, accomplish our to-dos, communicate, and connect as people, organizations, and governments. With this there are more ways to integrate these advancements in helping institutions better track art and cultural heritage. UNESCO created a broad initiative for information technology and heritage that has supported conferences that address how technology can support conservation including the Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) Conference,  Virtual Systems and Multimedia (VSMM) Conference, and the International Symposium in Heritage Recording  and Information Management in the Digital. Many national and international universities and non-profits  have organized initiatives, conferences, and technologies to help serve cultural heritage.

Technology for Cultural Heritage, a website describing the initiative, marks a collaboration between University of California, San Diego and National Geographic to better train scientists and engineers to bring their knowledge to cross-disciplinary endeavors in art, architecture, and archaeology. The Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3), a key component to the initiative, was formed in 2007 between UC San Diego’s  Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), Jacobs School of Engineering, and the Division of Arts & Humanities.

Since the late 2000s, the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) has been working on technology transfer and adaptation. This accounts for the challenges associated with developing specialized, analytical instruments often used in museum conservation laboratories.  GCI has recognized that some instrumentation from other scientific sectors can also be used in art and cultural heritage work. However, some tools require special modification so they are less invasive toward archaeological or art specimens.  With the help of physicists from the University of Bologna and Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, GCI has developed a CT scanner that can examine bronze sculpture, or other dense objects.

Another great example of the use of technology in supporting cultural heritage work is a project GCI and World Monuments Fund (WMF) have worked on since June of 2010. Arches, a cultural heritage inventory and management system designed for immovable heritage is open-source and uses a web-based geographic information system (GIS) this makes it affordable and customizable for every user. I also happen to have a very brilliant friend who works on this project.

via arches website: Members of the Arches team and other colleagues took a break during meetings in London in November 2012 for a tour of historic Abbey Road Studios.

via arches website: Members of the Arches team and other colleagues took a break during meetings in London in November 2012 for a tour of historic Abbey Road Studios.

I hope this brings some flavor to this topic. I feel that there are so many opportunities with new technology to not only find BETTER ways of managing and preserving cultural heritage, but to also find SMARTER, more ECONOMICAL ways. Perhaps, this will inspire those with an idea to launch a new initiative, or push those already working hard to continue making strides. Are there any projects that you would like to share? Let me know by sending a note through the Contact Me link under Pages.

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