Today, many nations are relying on digitization of cultural materials to preserve them for future generations. Recently, we have seen a lot of reports on organizations that consider digitization as an ideal solution to safeguard a country’s cultural heritage and relics. Digitization can make historical collections available online for present and future generations. Interested people can have online access to digital archives, available with regional historic centers, museums, and libraries.
For instance, China is preparing to use more digital methods for preservation of cultural relics. They are planning to come up with a national database of movable cultural relics for online access, with the facility for the public to take part in the preservation process.
The initial stage of the pilot project comprising the survey of movable cultural relics with government agencies, military and public institutions has been completed. This year, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, the agency responsible for the development and management of museums and also the protection of cultural relics of national importance, will focus on the identification and registration of items.
A report from Xinhua says that cultural relics owned by China’s Palace Museum alone surpassed 1.8 million. However, a large number of collections have been damaged. It is important that these historic relics are properly preserved and protected for future generations.
Historical documents either in paper format or photographs are subjected to scanning and indexing, in the process of digitization. Image capture is usually made with digital cameras/scanners (non-touch) designed to handle fragile and brittle materials. Images once captured are subjected to image processing to store them in the required file formats.
Advantages of Digitizing and Preserving Cultural Relics
As per the data given in the Chinese government’s website, China has a huge collection of around 400,000 unmovable cultural relics. These unique pieces of information should be protected well to carry over the traditional culture to future generations. Cultural relic digitization will help to attain the following benefits.
- Electronically enhanced images can be viewed with greater clarity
- Lessen the manual handling of fragile manuscripts
- Make the material broadly accessible to a large community
- Wear and tear of fragile items can be reduced with high quality images available online
- Preserves the collective memory long-term for the benefit of future generations
- Saves storage space
- Improves the visibility of a country’s/culture’s diverse heritage across the world
- Speeds up search methods
Each human society has a culture comprising a society’s arts, beliefs, customs, institutions, inventions, language, technology, and values. The preservation of cultural heritage is essential to protect a sense of identity in this culturally diverse world. Apart from digitization of cultural materials, China is making efforts to bring back their cultural artifacts available in various museums and institutions in Europe. It is reported that digital technologies allow these artifacts to be converted to advanced 3-D reconstructions and brought back to their home country as 3-D objects.