Kim H. Veltman

European Networks of Excellence and Global Digital Culture

Lecture: EVA-Beijing, Beijing, April 2002 (in press).


A European Network of Centres of Excellence in Digital Cultural Heritage, Euro ECultureNet, has been formed. It is will be funded by the European Commission as a Thematic Network for one year beginning in June 2002 with a view to becoming a fullfledged Network of Centres of Excellence within the Sixth Framework Programme. This paper provides a brief outline of the goals of the network and focusses on a larger challenge: the need for a new framework for global digital culture. It is in this context that Europe seeks co-operation with China.

1. Introduction
2. Goals of E-Culture Net
3. Technological Developments
4. Changes in Method
5. Needs for a New Global Vision
6. Conclusions

1. Introduction

E-CultureNet arose out of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Multimedia Access to Europe’s Cultural Heritage in parallel with the G7’s pilot project 5: Multimedia Access to World Cultural Heritage. It began as an informal consortium of the Universities of Bologna, Madrid, Maastricht, Vienna and the Scuola Normale (Pisa). At this stage, the consortium consists of 6 European Networks, and 24 members, which include important memory institutions (e.g. British Library, Centre Georges Pompidou), leading universities (e.g. Bologna, Madrid, Oxford, Vienna), the national supercomputing facilities of Italy and Spain and a number of leading research institutes. The Euro ECultureNet has links with two international networks (namely the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) and the Asian Network of Excellence in Digital Silk Roads (led by the National Institute of Informatics, Tokyo, in conjunction with UNESCO). It is hoped that links with China can also be established.

The idea of linking work of cultural institutions is not new. For instance, the Research Laboratory of the Museums of France (LRMF) was founded in 1931. It was a human network before the Internet. The Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) was founded in 1972. Experiments in linking digital content from different museums began seriously during the 1990s.

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