Digital humanities towards heritage

Digital humanities @ Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Photo: MIR, 2014.

One of the leading functions of heritage management is its interpretation, which means the presentation of its historical and cultural contexts. But, nowadays, as well as the formal description of the tangible heritage, publics require instruments and strategies to understand their intangible meanings. ICOMOS, at the Ename Charter (2007), had outlined that “Interpretation refers to the full range of potential activities intended to heighten public awareness and enhance understanding of cultural heritage site” (p. 4).

Both heritage and cultural tourism researchers have been confirming this concept, as a crucial policy to the heritage sustainability. Nevertheless, analogical data may be invasive and excessive at the heritage physical spaces, while digital may be an obvious alternative to share information in a segmented way, according to the individual requests, as “bringing together the traditional tools of humanistic thinking (interpretation and critique, historical perspective, comparative cultural and social analysis, contextualization, archival research) with the tools of computational thinking (information design, statistical analysis, geographic information systems, database creation, and computer graphics) to formulate, interpret, and analyse a humanities-based research problem” (Burdick, Drucker, Lunenfeld, Presner, & Schnapp, 2016, p. 134).

Despite the vast literature about digital humanities appliances and discussions, the research on museums and heritage digital projects is still very incipient and focusing case studies, as the Chess project, concerning storytelling and personalised interactive stories for visitors of cultural sites (Katifori et al., 2014), the QRator, using mobile devices and interactive digital labels (Bailey-Ross et al., 2016; Ross, 2012), or the projects lead by Kenderdine, related to immersive and interactive visualization environments (IIVE), which support embodiment for cultural heritage interpretation (Kenderdine, 2016). Besides the opportunities to new models of data dissemination, digital humanities challenge heritage sites to find a balance between the material exhibition and the storytelling, objects virtual manipulation and augmented reality.



Burdick, A., Drucker, J., Lunenfeld, P., Presner, T. S., & Schnapp, J. T. (2016). Digital-humanities. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

ICOMOS. (2008). Ename Charter for the Interpretation and Presentation of Cultural Heritage Sites. Retrieved from

Katifori, A., et al. (2014). CHESS: Personalized storytelling experiences in museums. In A. Mitchell, C. Fernández-Vara, D. True (Eds.), Interactive Storytelling: 7th International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling, ICIDS 2014, Singapore, Singapore, November 3-6, 2014, Proceedings (pp. 232-235). (S.l.): Springer.

Kenderdine, S. (2016). Embodiment, entanglement and immersion in digital cultural heritage. In S. Schreibman, Siemens, & Unsworth (Eds.), A new companion to digital humanities (pp. 22-41). Chichester, West Sussex, UK; Malden, MA, USA: John Wiley & Sons.