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First steps towards an integrated virtual national arts collection

28/10/2019

First steps towards an integrated virtual national arts collection

Britain’s world-leading cultural institutions could soon undergo a digital revolution thanks to a new £19 million Government research programme.

The Strategic Priorities Fund – Towards a National Collection: Opening UK Heritage to the World has the potential to transform the way our cultural heritage institutions can work together.

This research funding, delivered by the Arts and Humanities Council (AHRC) for UK Research and Innovation, will enable new ways of searching, accessing and displaying cultural treasures. For example, technologies such as visual search or artificial intelligence could revolutionise ways of exploring our collections, breaking away from text-based search for the first time in history.

Arts Minister Helen Whately said:

"Our museums and galleries teach us about our past and help us to better understand the world around us. This funding will see cutting-edge tech enhance the visitor experience, providing exciting new ways for people to explore our history."

New innovative digital technologies will also enable the possibility of linking collections so that in the future, researchers can pull together digitally items from across the UK's amazing collections, enabling a truly national collection for the first time.

Professor Edward Harcourt, Director of Research, Strategy & Innovation at AHRC, said:

“Digital innovation will be harnessed to link objects from the UK’s internationally renowned museums, galleries, libraries and archives, enabling researchers to search digitally across these amazingly diverse collections for the first time, and to bring the fruits of their research to the public in exciting new ways.

“The investment announced today will take the first steps towards an integrated virtual national collection, reinforcing the UK’s leading position not only in the arts and humanities but across all areas of research.”

The Strategic Priorities Fund is being delivered by UKRI to drive an increase in high quality multi- and interdisciplinary research and innovation; ensure that UKRI’s investment links up effectively with government research priorities and opportunities; and ensure the system responds to strategic priorities and opportunities.


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