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V I . 9
Case Study: "Safeguard of Cultural Heritage" -
An initiative of the National Research Council
(CNR), Italy
The Italian project "Safeguard of Cultural Heritage" is today one of the largest national
initiatives in the European cultural heritage sector. It started in 1997 and will be active for
five years. Its overall budget is about 115 billion Italian lire (about 88 million Euro).
The project was prepared and organised by the National Research Council (CNR) of
Italy:The National Research Council (CNR) is a public organisation that has a key role in
the Italian research system.The primary function of the CNR and its scientific research
institutes, distributed over Italy, is "to carry on, through its own organs, advanced basic and
applied research, both to develop and maintain its own scientific competitiveness, and to be
ready to effectively and timely take part in the strategic fields defined by the national
planning system". (cf. <> for a more detailed description of the mission
and activities of the CNR)
The project philosophy
The project "Safeguard of Cultural Heritage" was designed starting from the fact that
before no well organised, scientifically conceived and comprehensive cultural heritage
project had been prepared and put in action under strict scientific and public authorities
control. On the contrary, in Italy as well as throughout Europe the approach was rather
random, ephemeral, and often consequent to natural catastropes or accidents and disasters
provoked by men. (cf. Guarino, 1999)
The project is based on a broad definition of cultural heritage that includes every
material evidence of civilisation. It brings together scientific research groups specialised in
the protection, the restoration and the valorisation of cultural heritage. As Umberto Baldini
(Director, Safeguard of Cultural Heritage, CNR) has stated:"It is imperative that this
collaboration be based on mutual co-operation. Scientific experts, from restorers or art
historians to archaeologists and architects must all work together towards a common goal,
rather than individually as has happened so often in the past." And the resources were made
available "to open a new scientific frontier." (Baldini, 1999)
In particular, the aim of the project is to transfer into the cultural heritage sector
technologies developed in different areas or to develop new scientific tools suitable for
specific cultural heritage domains.Yet, the project is not only research driven as the targets
set must be approved by public authorities (on the national, region or city level) who take
the responsibility for the use of project results or products.
Therefore, the philosophy is based on the following key points (cf. Guarino, 1999):
No single research group will be financed.
40 targets were set, involving 5 - 8 research groups for each target.
Any target must have a public authority (state, region, city) which takes the
responsibility to employ the "products" of the target.
The CNR project is considered by Angelo Guarino (President, Cultural Heritage
Committee, CNR) as a "preliminary draft" of a comprehensive European project that
would favourably follow the "philosophy" of the Italian project. Such a project would take
into account the cultural identities and contributions of all EU Member States, and receive
national as well as EC funding if the set targets are of common European interest.