21st September 2021
AI to transform the UK’s culture and heritage collections

Flint Culture is pleased to announce the five major projects forming the largest investment of Towards a National Collection, a five-year research programme, revealing the first insights into how thousands of disparate collections could be explored by public audiences and academic researchers in the future.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has awarded £14.5m to the research and development of emerging technologies, including AI and citizen-led archiving, in order to connect the UK’s cultural artefacts and historical archives in new and transformative ways.

The five ‘Discovery Projects’ will harness the potential of new technology to dissolve barriers between collections – opening up public access and facilitating research across a range of sources and stories held in different physical locations. One of the central aims is to empower and diversify audiences by involving them in the research and creating new ways for them to access and interact with collections. In addition to innovative online access, the projects will generate artist commissions, community fellowships, computer simulations, and travelling exhibitions.

The investigation is the largest of its kind to be undertaken to date, anywhere in the world. It extends across the UK, involving 15 universities and 63 heritage collections and institutions of different scales, with over 120 individual researchers and collaborators.
Together, the Discovery Projects represent a vital step in the UK’s ambition to maintain leadership in cross-disciplinary research, both between different humanities disciplines and between the humanities and other fields. Towards a National Collection will set a global standard for other countries building their own collections, enhancing collaboration between the UK’s renowned heritage and national collections worldwide.