The application of ICT to the field of cultural heritage demands high requisites for fruition by the end-user. ICT are used to improve the conservation and awareness of cultural heritage, as they are capable of making powerful tools available that can effectively preserve, catalogue and query large collections, and of producing high-resolution digital representations of cultural artefacts that can be seen and studied by researchers in all corners of the world. Technology also helps bring history to life. Digital reconstructions and remote access applications allow (virtual) museumgoers to interact directly with the artefacts and to try new experiences.
In order to take advantage of all the opportunities made available by ICT, it was necessary to analyze the complex interdependencies between technology and culture. This was in fact the purpose of the EPOCH project, at the heart of which was a network of partners – consisting in university departments, research centers, cultural heritage institutes such as museums, art galleries and national cultural heritage agencies, and private enterprises – who shared the goal of overcoming the fragmentation that is typical of research in this particular sector.
EPOCH acted on three main areas. Firstly, it concentrated on improving integration within the field of cultural heritage through activities such as technology watch and case studies that would demonstrate the successes achieved by applying ICT to cultural heritage. Secondly, EPOCH directed its efforts towards the definition of a common research agenda that would define the basic requisites and propose possible solutions to harmonize the productive mechanisms linking ICT to culture. Lastly, the EPOCH network concentrated on the dissemination of research results and best practices through a series of events, publications and initiatives focusing on training and mobility.