Our Visualisation Project Officer, Kirsty Earley, was able to attend the conference as part of the College’s two-year visualisation project funded by Museums Galleries Scotland. Here she details the activities of the conference.
From 8th-10th May 2019, photography professionals from across the globe met together to share and discuss the current standards of 2D and 3D photography in the cultural sector. Taking place in Amsterdam’s famous Rijkmuseum, never was there a more appropriate venue for a conference on innovative digital technology for museums.
The conference commenced with an introductory talk by HRH Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands, who spoke of the incredible importance of digitally documenting our heritage that is constantly under threat from climate change, natural disasters, and terrorist attacks. Digitisation is being used to preserve cultural collections that have been lost, keeping the past alive and safe for the future. Every cultural institution should be employing digitisation in some shape or form.
Although to some digitisation may seem like an expensive investment that cannot be reached, a clear message across the conference was that digitisation can be affordable and effective. One such example of this in action was presented by Millard Schister from the Instituto Brasiliana. Through funding several cultural institutions in Brazil were given simple digitisation kits and training to perform digitisation in-house without having to outsource an expensive digitisation company. This has enabled them to preserve their collections digitally and make them accessible online. Schister highlighted that if digitisation only takes place in big institutions, that already have the money, this creates a much skewed vision of history as if to say the heritage preserved by smaller institutions is less important.
Thanks to funding received from Museums Galleries Scotland, we at the College have been able to digitise our collections via 2D photography, as well as create interactive 3D visualisation products to communicate our heritage and give increased access to our collections. It is important that heritage is preserved, but also shared.
Day 2 showcased the many different ways in which current digital technology can be applied to cultural heritage. From scanning heritage sites for conservation management to using artificial intelligence to create neural networks for image processing, the list of digital possibilities for cultural institutions truly is endless. The only limitation is creativity.
The final day was one filled with workshops held by some of the best digitisation experts in the world. Workshops ranged from learning the basics of photogrammetry to an overview of digitisation equipment to standards of digital archiving. No matter one’s level of experience or background, the environment of the conference was one of acceptance and help, a group of professionals who shared a passion for protecting the world’s heritage.
Cultural institutions should not be fearful of digital technology, but should see it as a tool to be embraced. Although digital files can never replace an historical item, they can be a necessity for the preservation of history. To borrow a quote from the conference, “Whatever the threat, digital technology should be part of the response.”