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Digital heritage research

Explore our work in digital heritage, one of our areas of expertise in Digital and Creative Technologies


Cultural and heritage locations like theatres, museums, castles and stately homes increasingly use digital technology in the development, preservation and delivery of visitor experiences.

For example, visitors to the Science Museum in London can immerse themselves in a virtual reality experience by returning to Earth from space in the pilot's seat of a Soyuz Capsule; visitors to buildings managed by Historic England can view 3D reconstructions of old buildings to see what they might have looked like throughout history. 

The use of digital technology is inescapable and new audiences have grown up with digital experiences, so expect digital enhancement during their visits. Organisations in the cultural and heritage sectors need to consider how they can implement digital technology and the benefits of implementation.

Our research covers the following topics

 

  • Digital heritage
  • Digital humanities
  • Digital museums
  • Museum technology
  • Digital culture
  • Digital cultural heritage
Our research is helping cultural heritage organisations plan for the future, such as by examining whether the cost of implementing new technology and hiring the staff to use it is justified by its impact on visitor experience. We provide resources, data and research for organisations to explore new digital opportunities and understand how to implement ideas effectively.
 
The work we do is also a source of knowledge and educational materials for schools, colleges and specific disciplines in universities – and helps enhance current teaching methods by re-framing the material in a way that's more interactive and engaging for a younger generation.
 
We also explore the relationship between technology and cultural heritage from a visitor's perspective. We seek to understand visitors' motivations to use the technology, their expectations and perspective on what it does, and whether it provides the best experience. 

Methods and facilities

We explore visitor engagement and participation using ethnography, observations, content analysis, conversation analysis and grounded theory. We also use quantitative research methods including experiments, prototyping, 3D modelling, network analysis and digitisation. 
 
We use immersive environments, virtual reality labs and our motion capture suite to place users in a digitally created environment as though it were real. Through this illusionary experience, users can interact and feel part of the environment – even though it's a construct – providing genuine research data.

Partnerships and funders

Our research is used by cultural organisations to engage with current and potential visitors through digital innovation. Our partners include the Royal Shakespeare Company, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Mary Rose Museum, Worthing Museum and Art Gallery, and the New Theatre Royal.

Our research has been funded by Innovate UK, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the British Academy. 

Project highlights

 

  • We're working with the Royal Shakespeare Company on the Magic Leap programme, exploring how performance is brought to life using spatial computing that detects and responds to the environment, blending the real-world with the digital.
  • We worked with the Mary Rose Museum to create a 3D visualisation of the ship's figurehead by piecing together shadow photographs and coordinate data. The 3D image of the figurehead can now be seen by visitors to the museum in Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard.
  • Our virtual reality research contributed to a BAFTA White Paper titled 'Virtual Reality In Entertainment - The State Of The Industry'. This research explored the features, benefits and limitations of different forms of virtual and augmented reality. We looked at current psychological and physical risks, the significance of its value, and best-practice for entertainment and the mission of BAFTA. This research was used to inform the new BAFTA VR committee on whether they should create a new awards programme for VR. They decided to integrate VR into existing awards programmes.
  • Always Moving: the new London Symphony Orchestra visual identity
  • Exposing the sacred monumentality in Ugarit: remodelling the Temple of Baal

Our members

Image of Dr Claire Bailey-Ross

Dr Claire Bailey-Ross

  • Job Title Academic Lead
  • Email Address claire.bailey-ross@port.ac.uk
  • Department School of Creative Technologies
  • Faculty Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries
  • PhD Supervisor PhD Supervisor
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Dr Vaughan Powell

  • Email Address Vaughan.Powell@port.ac.uk
  • Department School of Creative Technologies
  • Faculty Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries
Image of Dr Tarek Teba

Dr Tarek Teba

  • Email Address tarek.teba@port.ac.uk
  • Department School of Architecture
  • Faculty Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries

Discover our areas of expertise

Digital heritage is one of 7 areas of expertise in the Digital and Creative Technologies research area. Explore the others here.

 

Research groups

We're researching the discourses of community formation and deformation through their representations in literary texts.

Interested in a PhD in Digital & Creative Technologies?

Browse our postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils – at our Digital & Creative Technologies postgraduate research degrees page.

 

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