How to combine Heritage and Culture in the Digital World.

I am a student of both Digital Humanities and Global Gallery Studies, which means that I have the ability to look through both the digital and the physical lens, seeing both sides of arguments that ask, ‘Why do we need to digitise everything?’, when the truth is, we don’t. If we went ahead of attempted to digitise every little thing from the past, then we would have excess of information that we don’t really need to tell the story of the past. Which is where the idea of curation comes in, in order to decide what should/shouldn’t be digitised. Which in turn opens a whole other debate as to who is qualified to decide what pieces of our history and culture should we hold onto and what should we erase? This is not a new debate by any means, but it is a growing question that we are still no where near close to finding the correct answer if there in fact is a straight answer. There are some places in Ireland that manage to combine the worlds of the Heritage/Cultural and the Digital World, such as the Beyond 2022 initiative set up my the Irish Government and Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and is a

‘an all-island and international collaboration. Working together, we will launch a Virtual Record Treasury for Irish history—an open-access, virtual reconstruction of the Record Treasury destroyed in 1922’.

(“Beyond 2022 | Ireland’s Virtual Record Treasury” 2019)

This initiative helps to complete and image of Irish History which was thought to have been destroyed in the fire. For someone like me, this is a perfect example of Digital Humanities in action, using technology and communities with the knowledge and skills needed  in order to salvage what data or records we have from that time.

One local example of this is Nano Nagle Place which is a heritage space in the centre of Cork City which is dedicated to the life of Nano Nagle and the work of the South Presentation convent. Nano Nagle herself was the founder of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, otherwise known as the Presentation Sisters, Nagle also dedicated her life to the development of Catholic Education in Ireland (“The Story Of Nano Nagle – Nanonagle” 2019). The heritage centre details Nano’s life in Cork while also talking about the Order of the Presentation Sisters including records and photographs from when the school was in operation. They also use a mix of traditional and modern ways to tell the story of the convent from videos to digital maps highlighting Nano Nagle’s trips. The centre is considered to be highly innovative in its use of digital tools and other venues around the country are hoping to adopt similar systems in newer heritage sites, which is what makes Nano Nagle place so unique. While also showing how important and vital digital skills are in order to keep the heritage sector evolving to cater for the next generation of budding curators and historians.

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