Information Management Systems for Cultural Heritage and Conservation of World Heritage Sites. The Silk Roads Case Study

Ona Vileikis, Mario Santana Quintero, Koen Van Balen, Barbara Dumont, Vincent Tigny


This paper discusses the application of Information Management Systems (IMS) in cultural heritage. IMS offer a set of tools for understanding, inventorying and documenting national, regional and World Heritage properties.  Information Management Systems can assist State Parties, stakeholders and heritage site managers involved in cultural heritage management and conservation by easily mining, sharing and exchanging information from multiple sources based on international standards. Moreover, they aim to record, manage, visualize, analyze and disseminate heritage information. In close collaboration with five Central Asian countries, namely, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan; a Belgian consortium headed by the Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation (RLICC), K.U.Leuven is developing the Silk Roads Cultural Heritage Resource Information System (CHRIS). This Web-based Information Management System supports the preparation of the Central Asia Silk Roads serial and transnational nominations on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The project has been set up thanks to the financial support of the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO) and in collaboration with UNESCO World Heritage Centre in conjunction with the People’s Republic of China and the Japanese Funds-in-Trust UNESCO project. It provides a holistic approach for the recording, documenta tion, protection and monitoring tasks as part of the management of these potential World Heritage Properties. The Silk Roads CHRIS is easily accessible to the general user, presented in a bilingual English and Russian frame and interoperable, i.e. open for other applications to connect to. In this way, all information for the nomination dossiers is easily verified regarding consistency and quality and ready for managing, periodic reporting and monitoring processes in the respect to the property listed. Fina lly, this study provides a general framework to establish the effectiveness and limits of the use of information systems for serial transnational nominations of World Heritage Properties and to demonstrate the potentials of an improved heritage documentation system.


documentation, world heritage, information management systems, serial nomination.


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