"Counteracting the loss:" Preserving digital art for the future

The "Frankfurt Declaration" appeals to cultural policy-makers to counter the extensive loss of digital cultural heritage with networking and cooperation.


Nestor - competence network for digital preservation, located in Germany - presented the Frankfurt Declaration together with the Archive for Digital Art, headed by Professor Grau, Danube University Krems, to representatives from science, museums, cultural policy, artists and restorers from the DACH region. It is planned to establish a network consisting of German, Austrian and Swiss museums to ensure collection and preservation in the digital age through a joint strategy.

Despite its 50-year history, the collection of digital media art in Germany, Austria and Switzerland is in the ongoing process of expansion, partly because the collecting institutions lack the necessary financial, personnel and technical resources. In order to apply the existing methods of preserving digital art, collecting institutions need to be linked more closely with experts, and bundled endeavors are necessary in order to meet the challenges effectively. If institutions and donors do not correspond to these requirements, a considerable gap is impending on the cultural memory of the past and coming decades.

Preserving digital memory via network

According to the experts, the status quo poses numerous challenges that can be met by establishing a museum network for the collection and preservation of digital media art. They refer to the Liverpool Declaration, which calls for international, sustainable funding structures for the preservation of digital media art that more than 500 researchers, museum directors and other stakeholders and have signed.

An inventory of the existing collection holdings, based on the specification which conservation measures are required precisely, as the implementation of these measures especially involving the artists through establishing support programs, are among the core demands of the Frankfurt Declaration. The development of coordinated conservation strategies in connection with the development and expansion of competence through training and further education is just as much a part as making already existing expertise visible, which facilitates knowledge transfer and synergies.

Competence development at Danube University Krems

For two decades, the Department for Image Science at Danube University Krems has been carrying out the basic research creating the most comprehensive and ever-growing archive of digital art (ADA) and thus contributes to this initiative. The Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research in Vienna has just awarded 1.2 million Euros ADA for a four-year project with the University of Applied Arts Vienna, Prof. Ruth Schnell. The book "Virtual Art", MIT-Press 2002, by Prof. Oliver Grau, is meanwhile the internationally most cited work in art history since 2000.

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