“Digital space is a continent made of bits, powered by machines, accessible by anyone, anywhere, but how can we create and sustain heritage within this realm?”

Together with partners AVP and the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision (NISV), ICCROM set out to understand the needs for digital heritage on a global scale. Insights gained were used to design the first cascading capacity-development course on Sustainable Digital Heritage

This new course was conceived within the framework of the Sustaining Digital Heritage (SDH) programme, ICCROM’s newest initiative developed through a human-centred design process with an international scope. The nine-month Sustainable Digital Heritage course involves multidisciplinary teams from four diverse cultural institutions, the “learning partners” of this initiative, coming from four ICCROM Member States - Belgium, Ecuador, Peru and Türkiye.

The first phase of the Sustainable Digital Heritage course (from 6 to 10 November 2023) encompasses a one-week online learning experience course for learning partners on sustainable heritage.

The course aims to help digital leaders in cultural heritage develop the mindsets and methods of the digital age to develop sustainable approaches to preserving the longevity of collections. It emphasizes the principle that not all digital collections can be preserved to the highest standards and made available to all users, all the time, now and forever, but that smaller steps build momentum towards bigger goals.


Phase 1 – 6 to 10 November 2023

The Phase 1 learning component consists of four modules that together make the Sustainability Flywheel – a conceptual framework that provides a foundation for making incremental advancement in digital preservation and access. The four modules are: Adopt a Service Mindset, Right-Size Digital Operations, Deliver Value and Demonstrate Impact. The Flywheel model forms the basis of ICCROM’s training and tool, The Sustainability Test: A Self Assessment Tool for Evaluating Digital Sustainability (2022). 

The Sustaining Digital Heritage team has gathered a multidisciplinary resource team of lecturers drawn from organizations including ICCROM, AVP, NISV, Centrum Cyfrowe, Creative Commons, Europeana Foundation, FIAT/IFTA (International Federation of Television Archives), KIK/IRPA (The Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage in Belgium), meemoo, Memórica, StoryCenter and Q42.

The four participating institutions – “learning partners” – joining the online course were selected from 70 applications from over 30 countries. In April 2023, institutions were invited to submit their interest in the project. Following that, in July 2023, the shortlisted applicants were invited to complete the Sustainability Test, after which a final selection was made.

This one-week workshop phase of the course engages the following four cultural institutions: 

  • Fotomuseum Antwerp (Belgium) aims to engage its users in open dialogue through ambitious exhibitions that contextualize and connect photographs and related artefacts. 
  • Instituto Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural of Ecuador (Ecuador) aims to develop and disseminate research and support the safeguarding and social use of tangible and intangible heritage. 
  • Museo de Arte de Lima (Peru) seeks to provide a collaborative and interdisciplinary platform to share knowledge about Peruvian artistic production throughout the centuries. 
  • Douzan Art and Culture (Türkiye) aims to provide a space for Syrians to preserve and build upon their intangible cultural heritage in the realms of theatre, cinema and music.


SDH Course
Introductory Session – 31 October 2023 

The introductory session for the online course, which was held on 31 October 2023, served as an opportunity for the learning partners to become familiar with one another and set the foundation for the learning journey upon which they are embarking. 

The introductory session involved a dreaming exercise wherein visualizer Mahassen Masri designed an image for each learning partner. These images represent the responses to the question: In the next ten years, where do you see your institution on its sustainable digital heritage journey? The goal of these images is to capture the ideas of the participants at the start of the course, and to return to review these reflections before the second phase begins.

SDH workshop

Next Phases (December 2023 to June 2024)

The second phase of the Sustainable Digital Heritage course involves applied research for six months (December 2023 to May 2024). During this period, the learning partners will be provided with mentoring support for developing contextualized strategies to address the challenges faced by their institution in sustaining heritage in the digital realm, and experimenting with their implementation. 

The third phase (June 2024) sees the development of case studies as well as learning materials. During this time, a final online workshop will take place, in addition to an online gathering to showcase these findings. 

Finally, the next iteration of this project (September 2024) will follow in the form of a larger training on Sustaining Digital Heritage.

For further information, please send an email to digitalheritage@iccrom.org