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Both approaches are very demanding for cultural heritage institutions, the first in terms
of opening up to "non-expert" contextualisations, narratives, explanations of resources, the
second with regard to the technological investments necessary to build the infrastructure
and interactive tools for learners.The focus here will be on the first approach, while
building protected environments for e-learning will be dealt with in the case study on
SCRAN (it is also addressed in Chapter 8,"Exploitation".
The relationships citizens have to their cultural heritage resources in terms of history,
identity, and community are essential.Yet, the selection and valuation of these resources has
traditionally been done by members of disciplines and professions, who have acquired a
mandate and legitimisation to define, evaluate and interpret cultural heritage resources.
Today, there are many groups or communities of interest that demand to bring their record
to the cultural history and memory of society. Participants of the DigiCULT Online Delphi
highlight this trend, for example:
"I can see more and more interested working groups of people (in local neighbourhoods,
associations, etc.) trying to understand their history and their heritage. Many times the
research that they carry out remains unknown or grey (only published in short diffusion
journals)." (Thomas Baiget, Institut d'Estadistica Catalunya; June 6, 2001)
"We have to increase our definition of heritage in order to include: religious heritage
(currently vanishing in Canada), languages as heritage, natural landscapes, architecture.We
also have to open ourselves to organisations that preserve part of our heritage that have not
been part of public initiatives such as private businesses, private collectors or religious
communities." (Jean-Marc Blais, CHIN; July 16, 2001)
Furthermore, the presence of many different ethnic and religious groups (multicultur-
alism) as well as "sub-cultures" within a society pose the question how their cultural and
artistic expressions can be included in appropriate ways by cultural heritage institutions.The
basis for this would be the development of new concepts of documentation, contribution,
and interaction that allow for such groups and communities to participate in the cultural
heritage field. One example for this is the new project "Moving here" of the UK Public
Records Office together with libraries and museums to create online sources related to
immigration. (<>)
The virtual eco-museums of the future
Surprisingly, the eco-museum concept, developed in the cultural heritage field decades
ago, is still awaiting its renaissance in the cyber-space. By making full use of ICTs, this could
be exactly the place for it to gain new importance, meaning and vitality.The concept
declares a community to be a museum and builds on narrations and objects that come from
its members. Hugues de Varine, the main proponent of the idea, for example writes:"There
is no need to move these objects into the museum as soon as one locates them.The
community itself is the store and for this reason every household and every business has
continuous links with the museum." (Varine, 1993) With ICTs in place, digital images of
objects people value and stories they have to tell can quite easily be brought together in a
virtual eco-museum as well as one can link up to it online. Add to this Kenneth Hudson's
formula that Europe is "a giant network of potential eco-museums" the concept has much
future potential. (Hudson, 1996)