Ghent

Culture and cultural heritage

CoGhent - Collections of Ghent

"CoGhent ensures we can make great strides in the short term regarding the digitization and opening-up of both museum collections and the city archive. The ambition is that this project lays the foundation for a participatory platform that can benefit all heritage organizations within the city."

Sami Souguir, Deputy Mayor of Culture
The project in numbers
1
set of interactive digital tools that are initially deployed in a compact traveling mobile unit, and finally integrated into one of the Ghent museums.
100 000
digitized artifacts made publicly available for the first time via a city-wide platform connecting the data repositories of the 5 partnering museums and other cultural institutions.
300
heritage stories captured on-site during visits to the mobile unit in 3 neighborhoods.
10
awarded beneficiaries -individual artists, designers, craftsmen, startups, research groups - of the CoGhent financial scheme, stimulating co-creation using the digitized cultural heritage.
4,761,525.16
Total ERDF budget granted
Challenges addressed

Cities all over Europe are digitizing their cultural collections, but often lack the tools to use it to engage citizens. Data are stuck within institutional silos or used on single-purpose digital platforms that do not reach out to new audiences because they lack an open infrastructure. In addition, citizens have few means to contribute to and participate in the creation of our digital cultural heritage. However, culture is essential to improve social cohesion and citizens’ sense of belonging. Therefore, this project aims to contribute to the transition of cultural heritage institutions into places of community sense making.

Solution proposed

In order to leverage the full potential of cultural heritage in a digital way, this project aims to open up cultural data, making it usable, useful, and used.

To create this open knowledge, CoGhent establishes the necessary data architecture and a city-broad data management plan. We also conduct user-research to gain insight into cultural needs, thresholds, and opportunities regarding digitised cultural heritage in order to figure out which data to open up and how to bring it all together. Additionally, tools are developed to capture citizen stories and insights, enriching our city-broad digital cultural heritage. Finally, to actually reach and engage our target audience, CoGhent deploys a high tech mobile experience room that will traverse three neighborhoods. Within this space, the local citizen can enjoy a broad view of the cultural heritage in Ghent. Moreover, visitors can also choose to participate by adding personal stories to enrich the shared cultural heritage of Ghent.

In sum, we make use of linked data to foster cultural diversity and raise its visibility. This way, we increase the dialogue between citizens of different backgrounds, enhancing social cohesion.

Partnership
  • City of Ghent;
  • 3 local public authorities: AGB Art and Design; AGB Heritage; Digipolis;
  • 1 higher education and research institution: Ghent University;
  • 2 NGOs: VIAA; iDrops;
  • 3 private companies: Studio Dott; Inuits; Fisheye;
  • 1 SME: Chase Creative.
Expected results

CoGhent will integrate the result permanently in the future wing of the Design Museum Gent as part of their renewed role as a “third place” (widely understood as physical places where people can connect with each other). The digital infrastructure feeding this experience room will also be a vital building block to enable other city museums or cultural institutions to create their own digital immersive spaces. By linking heritage on a city level, using it as a foundation to capture and to show stories in cultural spaces, we want to incentivize the use of digitised heritage in engaging and purposeful ways as a shared connection between citizens. 

Main milestones
  • December 2020: Pre-development research is concluded, marking the beginning of the conceptual development, of the business and policy research as well as of visualisation and data integrations into the immersive space. 
  • June 2021: The data infrastructure is set-up, giving us the tool to create a first dev-kit prototype of the immersive space that we need for deployment as well as a cultural toolkit for the community workers to engage and co-create with neighborhoods that will prepare for the deployment phase.  
  • January 2022: Version 1 of the mobile immersive experience room will travel to 3 socially diverse neighborhoods to be tested out in real-life scenarios.
  • June 2022: Based on experience in the first neighborhoods and iterative development we have built the final state of this immersive experience room.
  • January 2023: In the end, this will lead to an integration plan to integrate and anchor the deployed visualisation and interaction tools in the Design Museum Gent. 
  • June 2023:  We wrap up the deployment and translate all learnings, successes, and failures into a comprehensive final report.
The project in numbers
1
set of interactive digital tools that are initially deployed in a compact traveling mobile unit, and finally integrated into one of the Ghent museums.
100 000
digitized artifacts made publicly available for the first time via a city-wide platform connecting the data repositories of the 5 partnering museums and other cultural institutions.
300
heritage stories captured on-site during visits to the mobile unit in 3 neighborhoods.
10
awarded beneficiaries -individual artists, designers, craftsmen, startups, research groups - of the CoGhent financial scheme, stimulating co-creation using the digitized cultural heritage.
4,761,525.16
Total ERDF budget granted
Contact of the project
Krist Poffyn
Strategic Funding Officer

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