ARCHiVe Analysis and Recording of Cultural Heritage in Venice

Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation and the Digital Humanities Laboratory of École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL-DHLAB) are launching a new centre dedicated to technology and to the digital preservation of cultural heritage on the Venetian Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Italy: ARCHiVe – Analysis and Recording of Cultural Heritage in Venice. The Helen Hamlyn Trust is the founding supporter of ARCHiVe.

The partners share the belief that digital mediation is an epoch-making innovation with major implications for research and education in the humanities. The Warburg Institute used technology to change the course of art history in the post-war years in a similar spirit. ARCHiVe aims to raise global awareness about the importance of digital technology for the preservation of cultural heritage in the C21st. The centre will act as a focus for academic and cultural institutions in the application and development of emerging technologies and intelligent computer vision software. The goal is to amass a vast archive of digital data, safely stored on the island of San Giorgio (and in other locations), for future generations.


The success of the centre will be measured by the quality and quantity of data gathered, processed and analysed. Data will be recorded and processed by people from a variety of backgrounds, disciplines and nationalities, all of whom will contribute their time and effort to a shared responsibility: preserving and providing access to the evidence of the past and, through this means, informing the present.
ARCHiVe will also organise educational activities for scholars and researchers, public institutes, foundations, companies and individuals seeking to improve skills in the field of the digital cultural heritage.

Training programmes will be based on a radical ‘learning by doing’ approach and structured around four phases of digital data management:
– data gathering (on-site recording of artifacts)
– data processing (digital mediation through data visualization, 2D and 3D digital restoration)
– data archiving (from digital storage to dissemination)
– data analysis (from raw sources transforming and modelling data for new discoveries and interpretation)

Theory and practice will be taught through ongoing ARCHiVe projects.
Students will learn the technological implications of documenting art and architecture through cross-disciplinary collaboration, first-hand experience and global engagement with real-life situations. During the exhibition Homo Faber: Crafting a more human future (14-30th September 2018) at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, two works by Italian Renaissance painter Paolo Veronese were digitised with the Lucida 3D scanner as one of the first projects of the new centre carried out in collaboration with Open Care (Milan). The data will be used to inform and document the cleaning of the paintings, owned by the Gallerie dell’Accademia. As part of this initiative, a practical workshop on surface 3D scanning was carried out on September 21st. This happened a few meters away from Palladio’s refectory where the facsimile of Veronese’s Wedding at Cana was installed by Factum Arte in 2007.

The partners


Factum Foundation

The Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation is a not-for-profit organisation founded in 2009 in Madrid by Adam Lowe. It works alongside its sister company, Factum Arte, a multi-disciplinary workshop in Madrid dedicated to digital mediation in
contemporary art and the production of facsimiles. The Foundation was established to demonstrate the importance of documenting, monitoring, studying, recreating and disseminating the world’s cultural heritage through the rigorous development of high-resolution recording and re-materialization techniques. The Foundation’s activities include: building digital archives for preservation and further study, creating and organizing touring exhibitions, setting up training centres for locals to learn the different technologies developed by the Foundation to record their own cultural heritage, and producing exact facsimiles as part of a new approach to conservation and restoration.


Fondazione Giorgio Cini

The Fondazione Giorgio Cini was created on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice in 1951 by Vittorio Cini in memory of his son Giorgio. The initial aim of the Foundation was to restore the Island, which had fallen into disrepair after almost 150 years of use as a military base, and to re-integrate it in Venetian life as an international centre for cultural activities and important meetings. In its almost seventy-year history, the Foundation has promoted permanent social, cultural, artistic and research activities, with special reference to Venetian and Veneto culture. These activities have always been pursued through original initiatives creating continuous dialogue with Italian and international cultural figures and institutions. The Foundation’s exceptional standing is highlighted by the large number of events promoted and hosted in its premises and the extent of its heritage, especially its art collections (antique books, drawings, miniatures, tapestries, paintings, furniture and sculpture) and considerable archives preserved on San Giorgio. In 1984, this heritage was further enriched by the addition of the Palazzo Cini Gallery at San Vio with its collections of Renaissance Tuscan and Ferrarese paintings.


Digital Humanities Laboratory of EPFL

Digital Humanities is an interdisciplinary domain applying computational methods to conduct research in the humanities. The Digital Humanities Laboratory (DHLAB), founded in 2012 by Professor Frédéric Kaplan develops new computational approaches for rediscovering the past and anticipating the future. Projects conducted at the lab range from building “Google maps of ancient places” to studying how algorithms transform the way we write. Benefiting from EPFL’s strong technological expertise, the DHLAB conducts research projects in collaboration with prestigious patrimonial institutions and museums, all over Europe. The lab’s interdisciplinary team includes computational scientists, mathematicians, experts in geographical information systems and interaction designers – all with transdisciplinary backgrounds facilitating interaction with humanities’ scholars from all disciplines. The  Venice Time Machine  is the DHLAB flagship project. It aspires to digitize 1000 years of historical records and make them accessible.