Southampton Institute for Arts and Humanities: Digital Infrastructure & Capability

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: School of Humanities


The University of Southampton is home to world class collections, from physical archives of historical documents (e.g the Mountbatten, Palmerston and Wellington papers), through material cultures (ceramics, lithics and osteological material) to born-digital data on cultural heritage sites (from 3D to 4D surface and subsurface data) on land as well as underwater. These resources are drawn on by an international group of scholars from a range of disciplines, as well as industry and NGO groups. The collections are curated, conserved and generated through a suite of infrastructure resources and staff capabilities spread across the university.

This work has seen the creation of a range of significant cultural resources; from Roman Amphorae, to models of sea-level change and cultural response to providing instruction and quality assurance for major European cultural heritage and education projects developing 3D capabilities for the Museums sector. In turn we have innovated techniques and tools to help drive the digital revolution forward into new sectors and environments. The university has worked collaboratively and across disciplines with collections and organisations across the heritage, conservation and, increasingly, the cultural and creative industries. We have partnered with bodies such as Heritage England, Historic England. Historic Environment Scotland and the National Trust as well as national museusms such as the British Museum, National Museum of Scotland and the Mary Rose Trust.

This project allows us to refresh and build upon our capacity in such innovative and cross-disciplinary work in three specific areas. The replacement of our equipment will allow us to continue to investigate and digitise a wide range of maritime and terrestrial landscapes and the built environment. It will allow us to investigate and digitise a range of portable material cultures and paper-based archives, both our own collections and those of our significant existing partners. The replacement of our capacities to handle and visualise data and materials will allow us to continue to advance our research and to engage organisations and publics in innovative and field-defining ways as we do so.

The project also coincides and supports the launch of an ambitious agenda at the University of Southampton. The new Southampton Institute for Arts and Humanities, SIAH, promotes and broadens the capacities of our research and enterprise cultures. Our new digital strategy is a key driver in this first year and it matches essential internal investment in new Digital Humanities Labs and staff with a plan to more closely manage, and pool, our significant but dispersed digital skills and resources. The strategy will enable us to lead on high quality large-scale interdisciplinary and outward facing projects. The bid accords with this far-reaching but discipline-agnostic agenda. It provides researchers with the skills and digital tools that will allow them to continue to produce research that will support the creative, cultural and heritage sectors whilst also informing the major challenges of our time.


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