3D-modell av stenhyddan på Antarktis
A 3D model of the stone cottage in Antarctica.

New project can save endangered cultural heritage

Climate change also affects our cultural heritage. A new project brings together several disciplines to develop methods for digital diagnostication of sensitive heritage and thus facilitate further research.
“We can’t send the scholars to Antarctica, but we can bring Antarctica to the scholars”, project leader Jonathan Westin says.

One example of a fragile and inaccessible cultural heritage is a stone cottage, left in Antarctica by Otto Nordenskjöld’s polar expedition in the early 1900’s. Researchers Jonathan Westin and Gunnar Almevik explored and made visualisations of the cottage and the surrounding environment in the winter of 2020.

The new project called Methods for digital diagnostication of sensitive heritage is led by Jonathan Westin and financed by the Swedish National Heritage Board. It aims to develop new methods for making cultural heritage more accessible so that research can be conducted without unnecessary traveling which would further burden the climate.

“We are going to examine how to use this previously made documentation to answer research questions regarding sustainability. This spot in Antarctica is under threat because of the melting glaciers and a multidisciplinary collaboration is needed to examine the possibilities to save it”, Jonathan Westin says.

The project also aims to answer the question whether 3D documentation can replace in-site research, as well as finding ways to better document upcoming expeditions. The project starts this spring and will be finalized next year with an exhibition about climate change which will be showcased in both Sweden and Argentina.

“The exhibition is a way to make visible the effects of climate change on cultural heritage. Our digital documentation could be of interest to a broader public. They will experience the stone cottage which Otto Nordenskjöld’s team survived in, over one hundred years ago” Westin says.

Methods for digital diagnostication of sensitive heritage

Methods for digital diagnostication of sensitive heritage is a collaboration between the Centre for Digital Humanities, the Department of Conservation at the University of Gothenburg, and Visual Arena. The project is supported by the Swedish Embassy in Buenos Aires and is funded by the Swedish National Heritage Board.