Please, accept cookies in order to load the content.

Heritage innovates. It does this partly through technological progress, but mainly by questioning current practice. A collection is not a neutral representation of the past, but acquires meaning through interactions with, and interpretations of, new generations of users. This means that heritage must, by definition, be future-oriented. At the conference Disclosing Futures – Rethinking Heritage, on 2 and 3 November in Het Nieuwe Instituut, we will discuss the reorientation of the role of heritage, and innovation as a condition for sustainable collection management.

Innovation focuses on new perspectives. Whose voices are represented in a collection? Are authorship and authenticity in need of re-evaluation? And what does all this mean for the collection policy? Multivocal, speculative and intersectional research provides space for new stories and other actors. We also focus on the democratisation of heritage: on the (creative) reuse of archive material, collective research and crowd editing.

Innovation is also about technological innovation: the preservation of material heritage through new restoration techniques, and the creation of new connections between collections through techniques that take users’ questions as their starting point, instead of the organisation of data. Machine learning, virtual reality and data visualisation enable new kinds of online access that open up collections to new user groups.

Disclosing Architecture

The discussion about the reorientation of the role of heritage is based on the work of recent years, both within Het Nieuwe Instituut and at other institutions, and both nationally and internationally. In 2018, Het Nieuwe Instituut embarked on Disclosing Architecture, a six-year programme to improve the visibility and accessibility of the National Collection for Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning, made possible by a one-off investment from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. Since the start of the programme, Disclosing Architecture has contributed to developing new methodologies, promoting inclusive and multivocal research, and building networks around the collection for greater visibility, both offline and online.

Two days of inspiration and knowledge sharing for heritage professionals, designers and educators

Together with our partners and fellow institutions, we have put together a rich and varied programme in which we discuss the future and the roles of heritage institutions. The conference is aimed at practitioners from the heritage sector and their colleagues working together with (national) trade organisations, the government, or associated sectors, nationally and internationally. We also warmly invite designers, students and members of educational institutions to join us.

Registration gives you access to a two-day programme full of inspiring presentations, intervision sessions, debates, workshops, networking opportunities and guided tours.

Would you like to stay up to date with the latest news about Disclosing Architecture and the Disclosing Futures – Rethinking Heritage conference? Then please register here

10:00 – 19:00
10:00 – 18:00

Het Nieuwe Instituut
Museumpark 25
3015 CB Rotterdam


The full programme and practical information will follow in the coming months.

Wednesday 2 November € 70,00
Thursday 3 November € 70,00


Rethinking Collections and Collecting: Inclusion, Exclusion and Multivocality

Social interests, political ideologies, access to technology and economic dominance – all these factors determine who tells the story of heritage, what that story actually is and how it is told. So how do we create space for new stories and other actors? Can we promote multivocality by finding new propositions, vocabularies and insights that deviate from the norms that have been used to tell histories?  Inclusion and exclusion are not just about which content is being archived, and by whom; it also involves the existing structures, systems and methods that are based on specific power relations.

Unwritten Rules

How do we deal with the intellectual property and cultural values ​​of underrepresented voices? Exploring the experiences of various institutions, we discuss this topic with Felicia Garcia, community manager at Local Contexts, and Cindy Zalm, head of realisation at the National Museum of World Cultures.

Collecting Otherwise: Re-Tooling and Re-Thinking Institutional Research

A round-table discussion on the need for new perspectives on the role and responsibilities of an archive management institution. We explore the ways in which we can rework, rethink and retell the shared heritage of communities, by viewing the material from an intersectional and decolonial perspective.

Tracking Artistic Research on Blueprints

Artistic research on archives can make a major contribution to our knowledge of collections and materials. Caroline Lange has been researching the blueprint as a medium in the National Collection for Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning since 2019. She talks to curator Hetty Berens about the new research method tracking, and how the knowledge from this type of research contributes to the development of new perspectives on design history.

Sustainable Collecting Approaches

What should we value as cultural heritage for the future? The answer to the key question depends on who you ask. Het Nieuwe Instituut examined its own past, a century of collecting architectural archives, to discover that re-evaluating architectural archives has a long history. What does research into the collecting history of a collection mean for the future of that collection?

Technologies of Heritage: Restoration, Digitisation and Digital Preservation

With this theme we explore the techniques and ethics of restoration, conservation, digitisation and material research regarding heritage objects. What new perspectives on heritage are opened up by these techniques? The idea of ​​heritage is that there is an original that must be preserved in its original state. Society has traditionally preferred authenticity, especially in relation to heritage, art and design. But what do authenticity and authorship mean in the digital age? Have existing frames of thought that form the basis of museum practice and heritage policy – with their binary concepts such as original vs copy, real vs virtual, tangible vs intangible, digital vs analogue – become obsolete? We also address the inevitability of decay, and even embrace it, by adopting an alternative understanding of heritage value.

Experiments in the Analogue Archive

In the archive, we regularly encounter materials that invite or even force us to think about conservation in a different way. One example is the Zip, a plastic film that has been widely used in design drawings since 1945. Archival material is subject to change over time, but to what extent are we prepared to accept that change? We talk to Marion Cinqualbre, a restorer who specialises in Zips.

Keeping the Digital

Digital tools have had a major impact on architectural practice, the design process and architecture itself. Yet preserving born-digital material is a major challenge, as software and hardware quickly become obsolete and accessibility cannot be guaranteed. How do we go about archiving and opening up this heritage, and what does it tell us about the digitisation of architectural practice?

Digitisation for Online Platforms

Digitising the National Collection brings many challenges, but also new knowledge. Het Nieuwe Instituut has developed the DigiLab, with options for digitising large formats. In addition to speeding up and simplifying the recording process, it ensures higher image quality and safer handling of the frequently fragile pieces.

2D to 3D: Adding a New Dimension to Digitising Heritage

Thanks to photogrammetry, 3D digitisation is becoming increasingly easy and accessible. But what are the opportunities for collections, and what are the limitations of 3D digitisation? During this workshop, we explore the potential of 3D scanning by digitising five models using one mobile device.

Modern Photography

The project Collection Knowledge 2.0: Photography involves developing a method that allows collection staff members to recognise photographic processes and monitor works, with the aim of improving the durability, visibility and accessibility of photographic works.

Van Doesburg: Through the Restorer’s Eyes

The large-scale restoration of the Van Doesburg collection was completed in October 2022. On the basis of pieces from the collection, restorer Elizabeth Nijhoff Asser and art historians Wietse Coppes and Caro Verbeek reflect on the considerations that needed to be applied during the restoration. For the first time, the results of this restoration are shared with colleagues in the field.

Collaborations and Networks

What does it mean for an institution to use open platforms for archival collections? To use techniques that take users’ questions as the starting point, instead of data organisation? With this theme we explore decentralised forms of archiving, new participatory partnerships, knowledge networks, crowdsourcing, and the transition from collection data to linked open data (LOD). These create new relationships within a collection and new connections between collections.

The Quality of Standards

Why are IT infrastructure standards important to the industry, both nationally and internationally? And how do you implement DERA (digital heritage reference architecture)? This session will act as a hands-on workshop for collection managers.

Play with SPARQL

How does SPARQL as a RDF query language change the way we do research, and what results can we expect from it? Discover in a hands-on workshop how to create your own SPARQL query based on the SPARQL Endpoint as used by Het Nieuwe Instituut and other institutions.

A Guide to Linked Open Data

Linked Data is a set of design principles for sharing machine-readable interlinked data on the web. When combined with Open Data (data that can be freely used and distributed), it is called Linked Open Data (LOD). It is able to handle huge datasets coming from disparate sources and link them to Open Data, which boosts knowledge discovery and efficient data-drive analytics. How can we convert collection data to LOD? What is the effect of LOD on collection registration? What standards are there besides SPARQL? What tasks and roles are required at heritage institutions to create LOD? A practical guide for all those who want to get started with LOD themselves.

Archiving Contemporary Architects

How do large architectural firms organise their archives and how does it relate to how archive institutions perform the same task? We talk to leading contemporary architectural firms about the role they see for themselves and for heritage institutions in preserving their work and making it accessible in the future.

The Knowledge of Others

Archive management institutions do not have a monopoly on all knowledge; they only represent some of the possible perspectives on a collection. How then can we take enriching information from third parties and implement it in our collections? And how do we maintain relationships with these communities?

Alison's Room

The XR (extended reality) installation Alison’s Room brings to (virtual) life the London home study of architect Alison Smithson. The installation was developed by guest researcher Paula Strunden and is based on extensive research involving photographs, diaries and the archive of Alison and Peter Smithson.

The Living and Open Archive: Re-using Heritage, New User Groups, and Other Interfaces

Contemporary heritage practice is characterised by active rather than passive forms of engagement, in which creation, reinterpretation, sharing, imagination and speculation are essential concepts and practices. What are the implications of today’s technologies for users? Digital archives offer new, exciting possibilities, such as machine learning, virtual reality and data visualisation, that put users at the centre and approach them not as audience members, but as participants. Within this theme we focus on the democratization of heritage: on facilitating the (creative) reuse of archive material, collective research and crowd editing.

Reusing Heritage: The Living and Open Archive

Involving makers and designers, who actively and creatively work with and reuse the digital collection and metadata, keeps a collection alive and socially relevant. How open are collections, and how does creative reuse contribute to critical reflection on heritage and archive institutions?

Archiving Virtual Spaces

A round-table discussion on the challenges and opportunities related to the management of and access to archives through virtual spaces and the creation of digital infrastructures for virtual spaces.

From Visitors to Users

How can the heritage sector use behavioural profiles when designing new digital products?

The Other Interface

How do you design an interface that allows users to intuitively explore and experience a collection? With this question in mind, New York-based design agency Linked By Air set to work to design Het Nieuwe Instituut’s new collection platform. Linked By Air partner Dan Michaelson talks about the design process and how this new platform facilitates different behavioural profiles of online heritage users.