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Innovation Pilot Theme: Digital Heritage

Archives, historical sites, galleries and museum collections are often associated with a pre-digital sense of timelessness: ink on paper, ancient artefacts, leather-bound volumes and marble sculptures. These Innovation Pilots examine ways that digital technologies can enhance the work of heritage organisations: bringing history to life, attracting new audiences, inspiring creative practice, and preserving heritage for future generations.

Bowes North Digital Creativity

This project will focus on digital creativity and participation within the newly established Centre for Contemporary Craft at the Bowes Museum. A series of two workshops will bring together academics, practitioners and makers to identify and prioritise opportunities for digital innovation in the Centre’s activity – including virtual exhibitions, programming activity, downloadable content, emerging technologies and 3D artefact scanning.

The Bowes has made a commitment to developing its digital policy, and the Centre will have both a physical presence at Bowes, and a vibrant online community – with the museum’s collections, archives and expertise providing material to test new technologies and digital approaches with low-risk, authentic creative activity.

Intogral Ltd: Deep Learning AI for the Classification & Clustering of Museum Collections

Who was involved?

Intogral Ltd, Durham University, Newcastle University

What did they do?

This pilot conducted a proof of concept project to determine if Artificial Intelligence Deep Learning could be applied to cultural and fine art artefacts to support the classification and clustering of museum collections. The work involved the collation of sample images from museums, establishment of Deep Learning architecture, training and visualisation techniques. After testing, there were demonstrations to stakeholders including UNESCO, INTERPOL, ICOM, and also commercial / private sector auction houses and private collectors.

What next?

Intogral Ltd are planning to apply for an Innovate UK R&D grant to continue this work in conjunction with academic collections from across the North East and Europe.

Heritage Hunter Gatherer

Heritage Hunter Gatherer aims to create a first stage demonstrator of a digitally-enabled, multi-sensory visitor experience system for heritage sites and attractions, boosting engagement and enhancing learning. The platform broadly aims to enable visitors to scroll back and forth through history, populating digital and on-site environments with visions of the past, with the functionality to tailor content to the requirements of individual venues.

The collaborative project team consists of people from the National Trust, Northumbria and Durham universities, and experts from cultural and heritage sectors. Together, they will use the recently re-opened site of Seaton Delaval Hall as a test-case for a working demonstrator application. The work will include an initial visualisation of a four-dimensional digital reconstruction of part of the hall (the interior of which was destroyed by fire in 1822), video capture of its time as an Italian Prisoner of War camp, and some geolinks around outlying buildings to showcase its past and present.

Valuing Digital Archives: Digital Archive Initiative

Within the region’s cultural heritage sector, a consistent method of data archiving, dissemination, modification, management and access does not exist.
This project aims to establish further connections and opportunities for collaboration between SMEs, Cultural Heritage organisations and academic institutions. A series of workshops will set up a forum for mutual exchange between researchers and industry partners, engage and challenge attendees to consider communication and cultural barriers that hinder fusion, and explore how technologies can be usefully applied in the context of cultural heritage.
The first Digital Archive initiative will be launched February 7th, 2018 to enable invitees to be far more immersed in the possibilities for the combined future of heritage and industry in the North East. The event is designed to bring together experts who have never been in the same room before and to be guided by marrying advanced technical and commercial capabilities with a deep appreciation of the region’s heritage complexities. This is not just another focus group event. The project aims to build a strong network between the vibrant cultural heritage community and industry.

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