Smashing the Silos! The Future of Cultural Heritage Information and Visualization, Graz, July 9th

On the 9th of July, we organized a one-day research symposium (online and at the Kunsthaus Graz, co-located with DH2023) to reflect on novel developments and challenges in the field of cultural heritage information and visualization.

Since 2020, InTaVia works at the transnational connection and harmonization of cultural heritage data collections (both on tangible and intangible aspects of CH information) and on making these complex collections accessible and visible for a wide range of audiences. Starting from a reflection on the project’s main questions and results, this one-day symposium aims to expand, deepen and contextualize the impulse of this European initiative with cutting-edge inputs from digital humanists, visualization scholars, and GLAM practitioners. The symposium aims to strengthen the collaboration between actors from the cultural heritage, digital humanities, and visualization fields.

Sunday, 9th July 2023, 10am – 5pm

Conference program:

Morning Session

  • 10.00-10.15 Introduction & Welcome 
  • 10.15-11.00 Data Modelling & Harmonization
  • 11.15-12.00 Collaboration
    • Eva Mayr (University Krems), Florian Windhager (University Krems): Connecting Data Silos, DH Teams & Cultural Heritage Institutions
    • Sally Chambers (Ghent University, DARIAH): Towards Interconnected Infrastructures for Cultural Heritage Data: where Data Spaces, Collaborative Clouds and Open Science meet
    • Moderated discussion

  • 12.15-13.00 Accessibility of Cultural Information & the Role of Visualization (Panel)

Afternoon Session

  • 14.15-15.00 Visualization of object and biography data
  • 15.15-16.00 Visualization-based Storytelling

Get Together

Visualizing cultural heritage (CH) information has become a sprawling research field with eminent relevance for researchers and mediators in the arts and humanities as well as for practitioners of GLAM institutions around the world. Recent contributions to this field are coming from digital humanities venues and journals (e.g., Bludau et al., 2021, Brüggemann et al., 2020, 2022, Glinka et al., 2017, Hinrichs et al., 2019, Windhager et al., 2020), from computer science, HCI and visualization research (e.g. Benito-Santos, 2020, Filipov et al., 2021, Jänicke et al., 2015, Lamqaddam et al., 2020), from GLAM research fields (Foni et al., 2010, Kenderdine, 2015, Urban et al., 2010, Windhager et al., 2018), and from venues trying to actively bridge these different communities, such as the Workshop on Visualization for the Digital Humanities (VIS4DH), organized annually at the IEEE VIS conference (Bradley et al., 2018). 

While contributions to this distributed field accumulate across various communities and venues, many conceptual and technological research and development challenges have been documented, including questions of how to visualize linked, heterogeneous, multivariate, uncertain, autotelic, qualitative, multimodal or narrative aspects of cultural heritage information for various types of users (e.g., Hinrichs et al., 2019, Windhager et al., 2018, Lamqaddam et al., 2021). However, future work on these challenges has also been argued to depend on stronger transdisciplinary collaborations for data, concept and technology development, and on efforts to consolidate related research and discourse environments (Bradley et al., 2018). 

Since 2020, a European research project works at the transnational connection and harmonization of cultural heritage data collections (both on tangible and intangible aspects of CH information) and on making these complex collections accessible and visible for a wide range of audiences ( Starting from a reflection on the project’s main questions and results, the symposium aims to expand, deepen and contextualize the impulse of this European initiative with cutting edge inputs from digital humanists, visualization scholars, and GLAM practitioners. With these experts we seek to discuss open challenges for the research field, and reflect on future means to build new bridges: 

  • How to tackle omnipresent challenges of CH data heterogeneity and uncertainty?
  • How to support CH information retrieval, creation and curation by visual means?
  • How to reconcile a plurality of visualization perspectives (e.g., on geographic, relational, taxonomic, or chronological CH aspects) and work on different CH focus entities (e.g. on cultural objects and cultural actors, as well as on larger assemblies thereof)
  • How to intertwine exploratory and explanatory or narrative modes of CH visualizations?
  • How to foster stronger collaborations between communities of VIS4DH+CH practice?

The one-day symposium will intertwine short overviews on European project developments for these guiding questions with responses and inputs from leading DH, CH and visualization scholars, many of which have been assembled so far by the IEEE-associated VIS4DH-workshop ( These talks will be further contextualized by moderated discussions, open to all participants and the hybrid DH audience. One main motivation of the proposed event includes the build-up and discussion of future collaborations between the ADHO and IEEE-associated communities of practice, and to work at the conceptual and inter-institutional consolidation of the research field.


  • Benito-Santos, A., & Sánchez, R. T. (2020). A data-driven introduction to authors, readings, and techniques in visualization for the digital humanities. IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, 40(3), 45-57. Online
  • Bludau, M. J., Dörk, M., & Heidmann, F. (2021). Relational perspectives as situated visualizations of art collections. Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, 36(Supplement_2), ii17-ii29. Online
  • Bradley, A. J., El-Assady, M., Coles, K., Alexander, E., Chen, M., Collins, C., … & Wrisley, D. J. (2018). Visualization and the digital humanities: Moving toward Stronger Collaborations. IEEE computer graphics and applications, 38(6), 26-38. Online
  • Brüggemann, V., Bludau, M. J., & Dörk, M. (2020). Zwischen Distanz und Nähe: Formen der Betrachtung und Bewegung in (digitalen) Sammlungen. Das digitale Objekt–Zwischen Depot und Internet, 7, 115-123. Online
  • Brüggemann, V., Bludau, M. J., Pietsch, C., & Dörk, M. (2022). Von der Wolke zum Pfad – Visuelle und assoziative Exploration zweier kultureller Sammlungen. In DHd 2022, Book of Abstracts. Online
  • Filipov, V., Schetinger, V., Raminger, K., Soursos, N., Zapke, S., & Miksch, S. (2021). Gone full circle: A radial approach to visualize event-based networks in digital humanities. Visual Informatics, 5(1), 45-60.
  • Foni, A. E., Papagiannakis, G., & Magnenat-Thalmann, N. (2010). A taxonomy of visualization strategies for cultural heritage applications. Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage (JOCCH), 3(1), 1-21.
  • Glinka, K., Pietsch, C., & Dörk, M. (2017). Past Visions and Reconciling Views: Visualizing Time, Texture and Themes in Cultural Collections. DHQ: Digital Humanities Quarterly, (2). Online
  • Hinrichs, U., Forlini, S., & Moynihan, B. (2019). In defense of sandcastles: Research thinking through visualization in digital humanities. Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, 34(Supplement_1), i80-i99.
  • Jänicke, S., Focht, J., & Scheuermann, G. (2015). Interactive visual profiling of musicians. IEEE transactions on visualization and computer graphics, 22(1), 200-209. Online
  • Lamqaddam, H., Moere, A. V., Abeele, V. V., Brosens, K., & Verbert, K. (2020). Introducing Layers of Meaning (LoM): A Framework to Reduce Semantic Distance of Visualization In Humanistic Research. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 27(2), 1084-1094.
  • Urban, R. J., Twidale, M. B., & Adamczyk, P. (2010). Designing and developing a collections dashboard. In Museums and the Web 2010. Online
  • Whitelaw, M. (2015). Generous interfaces for digital cultural collections. dhq Online
  • Windhager, F., Salisu, S., & Mayr, E. (2020). Reassembling Elephants: A Multi-Spatiotemporal Visualization Method for History and Humanities Data. DH 2020. Online 
  • Windhager, F., Federico, P., Schreder, G., Glinka, K., Dörk, M., Miksch, S., & Mayr, E. (2018). Visualization of cultural heritage collection data: State of the art and future challenges. IEEE transactions on visualization and computer graphics, 25(6), 2311-2330. Online



Matthias Schlögl (ACDH-CH), Jouni Tuominen (Aalto University):
The InTaVia Knowledge Graph

A central outcome of InTaVia is a knowledge graph, which harmonizes and links biographical data from four prosopographical databases across Europe (FI, NL, AT, SI) and links them to related cultural objects from Wikidata and Europeana. The presentation will give an overview on the integrated data model, on transnational harmonization efforts, and on open challenges in creating this cultural knowledge graph.

George Bruseker (, CIDOC-CRM):
The Fight for Digital Rationality or Building a Scholarly Data Culture

This talk will discuss the need for and on-going efforts that exist to make data fundamentally intelligible and accessible to human critique and understanding. It will look at the successes and challenges faced by the ontology and semantic data modelling community not only to create transparent and accessible data but also to create the necessary instruments to support a scholarly culture that can make use of such an infrastructure towards humanistic goals.





Eva Mayr (University Krems) & Florian Windhager (University Krems):
Connecting Data Silos & Cultural Heritage Institutions

Digital humanists are used to work in teams, including transnational, large scale collaborations. However, further developing a “4D mirror world” will arguably rely on even increased efforts of interconnecting and harmonizing data silos, DH initiatives, and CH institutions. In this context, “collaboration” appears as both: a genuine opportunity and a serious orchestration challenge. Both will be illustrated with a sketch of the connection activities of the InTaVia project – and with regard to the networking activities of the IEEE VIS-affiliated “VIS4DH” workshop, whose future will be discussed with representatives at the symposium.

Sally Chambers (Ghent University, DARIAH):
Towards Interconnected Infrastructures for Cultural Heritage Data:
Where Data Spaces, Collaborative Clouds and Open Science meet

Cultural Heritage Data Infrastructure is a hot topic! Not only is the development of a common European data space for cultural heritage and a Collaborative Cloud for Cultural Heritage underway, but cultural heritage data is increasingly being considered as humanities research data (Tasovac et al., 2020). As a result, research infrastructures such as the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Open Marketplace and DARIAH also come into play. In this complex and dynamic infrastructural landscape, what can we do to ensure that we work towards interconnected infrastructures rather than infrastructural silos?





Samuel Beck (University Stuttgart) & Johannes Liem (University Krems),
& Florian Windhager (University Krems):           Drawing Together Work & Life

While multimodal, historical knowledge graphs are emerging and interconnecting cultural data and information across various history, humanities and heritage domains, their accessibility and “human readability” poses a notorious challenge. InTaVia’s visualization groups work on creating and utilizing synoptic visual representations for the project’s knowledge graph, which draws together transnational data about cultural objects and the biographies of related historical actors. The talk will report on the development of the InTaVia “Visual Analytics Studio” which supports practices of querying, data analysis and manual data curation.


Johanna Drucker (UCLA) & Marian Dörk (FH Potsdam):
Visualization for Exploration and Narration: Temporal Data as a Case Study

Based on our combined interests in the ways data visualization can support both open-ended exploration and captivating storytelling, we will share experimental representations of temporal data in humanities documents (texts, images, data, news) and reflect on the kinds of experiences of time and temporality they afford.





Carina Doppler (Fluxguide), Jakob Kusnick (University Southern Denmark), &
Eva Mayr (University Krems): Narrative Visualization of Cultural Information

Stories are as old as human history – and a powerful means for the communication of information. In the last years novel opportunities have been explored which emerge from their combination with visualizations, also for the fields of cultural information and in the digital humanities. InTaVia builds on these approaches and developed a storytelling suite, which allows cultural heritage experts and digital humanities professionals to create visualization-based stories on cultural actors and objects and share them with the general public.


Valentina Bartalesi (CNR-ISTI):
Semantic Narratives – Creation and Visualization

A narrative is a conceptual basis of collective human understanding. Humans use stories to represent characters’ intentions, feelings and the attributes of objects and events. A widely-held thesis in psychology to justify the centrality of narrative in human life is that humans make sense of reality by structuring events into narratives. Therefore, narratives are central to human activities in cultural, scientific, and social areas. Story maps are computer science realizations of narratives based on maps. They are online interactive maps enriched with text, pictures, videos, and other multimedia information, whose aim is to tell a story over a territory.  This talk presents a semi-automatic tool that, using a CRM-based ontology and the Semantic Web technologies, produces semantic narratives and visualises them in the form of story maps and timelines as an alternative representation.

Location: Kunsthaus Graz, view from the Schlossberg (Image by M. Schneider & C. Aistleitner)