Forscher erfassen den Fries des Pergamonaltars mit einem Laserscanner.
© Fraunhofer IGD
Forscher erfassen den Fries des Pergamonaltars mit einem Laserscanner.

Project CultLab3D

Im Pergamonmuseum in Berlin wurde ein aufwendiger 3D-Scan des alten Kunstwerks realisiert.

Preserving cultural heritage – through research and high-tech

Fraunhofer innovations for cultural heritage

How can cultural heritage be protected and preserved? The Executive Board Project ‘Cultural Heritage’ involves Fraunhofer researchers developing the technologies required.

Historical temples, ancient statues, paintings by the great masters: it is vital to preserve mankind’s cultural heritage. When it comes to the methods involved, most people think of restorers working with brushes, tweezers and endless patience to repair defects such as holes and imperfections in ancient works of art. What is far less well-known is that high-tech solutions resulting from scientific research are also required to preserve historical art treasures. In fact a look at the Fraunhofer labs reveals numerous researchers devoting their skills and expertise to the development of solutions to preserve the world’s cultural heritage. A total of 16 Fraunhofer Institutes are involved in the Culture Heritage research project in collaboration with their partners – the Dresden State Art Collections and the Saxon State and University Library Dresden. The Fraunhofer Executive Board has provided funding of EUR 1.5 million for the project. “This makes it one of the biggest German research projects in the field of cultural heritage – something we’re extremely grateful for,” says Dr. Johanna Leissner, Executive Board Project Coordinator and Spokesperson of Forschungsallianz Kulturerbe (Research Alliance Cultural Heritage) in Brussels. The closing event takes place on 6 September 2018 at the Saxon State and University Library Dresden – coinciding with the European Year of Cultural Heritage. 

Example projects

CultLab3D: 3D digitalization / Enameled gold in the Green Vault / Reconstructing and restoring medieval manuscripts

© Fraunhofer IGD


The scanner allows objects of varying size to be digitalized fully automatically, capturing their geometry, texture and physical/optical material properties so as to enable faithful reproduction to the nearest micrometer.

© Fraunhofer ISC

Enameled gold in the Green Vault

Test application of the new ORMOCER® on damaged enamel models.

© Sächsische Landesbibliothek- Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden (SLUB)

Reconstructing and restoring medieval manuscripts

The socioeconomic value of cultural heritage

Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy IMW

When it comes to making decisions on the protection and preservation of cultural heritage, the focus is usually on cost. After all, the cost is easier to demonstrate than the benefits. But this is far from satisfactory. The question should rather be: how is it possible to measure and scientifically assess the overall socioeconomic value of cultural heritage? In a recent study, scientists at the Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy IMW have developed an approach that allows the benefits to be expressed more effectively and concretely in terms of economic value– both the direct benefits – such as income from cost of travel to visit the cultural treasures – and the indirect benefits, i.e. aesthetic appeal and the value to later generations. “For our study we deliberately didn’t select a beacon project such as the Green Vault or Neuschwanstein Castle but an object that is far removed from the main flow of visitors: the Herrnhut Ethnological Museum, which is part of the Dresden State Art Collection,” says Urban Kaiser, Group Leader at the Fraunhofer IMW.

The study has two parts: firstly, visitors were asked how much it cost them to get to the museum. Then the researchers carried out an online survey of 1,013 individuals throughout the whole of Germany, asking what they would be prepared to pay for the protection and preservation of Herrnhut Ethnological Museum – in the form of a tax, for example. “It’s less about arriving at concrete figures than creating a basis for justifying the long-term preservation of this kind of museum,” says Kaiser. In subsequent projects, the scientists intend to validate and advance their method based on international examples.