The digitisation of three-dimensional objects within Arts and Humanities research, including art, material culture, as well as collections and archives often generates a large amount of 3-dimensional and visual digital data. This includes 3-dimensional (3D) data resulting from processes such as 3D modelling, structure from motion, aka photogrammetry, 3D scanning or born-digital materials and systems, as well as other imagery resulting from non-invasive digital imaging such as computerized tomography (CT), multi and hyperspectral imagery, pigment analysis, and optical microscopy. This data is often large-scale, complex, multi-part and critically requires documentation of the digitisation processes which generated it for it to be (re)usable. The data also links to a complex network of knowledge regarding the design, fabrication, construction, conservation and restoration of objects often stored in institutional and project specific repositories.

The resulting linked-datasets allow researchers to analyse, examine and understand the social, historical and cultural context in which objects and environments were constructed as well as their life history. They also provide evidence and knowledge related to historical processes and materials which can underpin innovation in manufacturing techniques and new materials including 3D printing technologies. Moreover, the research into digital twins to support the preservation of objects and environments is an area that is gaining popularity in humanities disciplines.

Beyond research, the data is also used for pedagogic purposes to enable higher education students to gain easy access to and deeper understanding of examples of material and digital culture and their contexts; and further efforts are being made to incorporate the results of scholarly research into the professional practice of GLAM institutions.

To underpin research in these areas, amongst others, this project aims to scope the specifications for a Trusted Data Repository and Service infrastructure focusing on complex 3D data related to material and digital culture, visual arts, large or complex digital objects and ‘born-digital’ material.