Cultural Heritage, tourism and the creative industries

The past as “fait accompli” or as a scenario for possible futures:

How tech-triggered innovation can lead to emotion, immersion and involvement.


By Ugo Bacchella & Luca Dal Pozzolo


Ugo Bacchella, chairman, Fondazione Fitzcarraldo: Speaker at THE ARTS+ Innovation Summit


There have been many experiments in how to communicate cultural heritage, yet until recently the underlying paradigm remained largely anchored in the 19th century view that advanced historical knowledge is a prerequisite for enjoying the arts. Here, cultural tourism took on an erudite dimension, serving to enrich a (mainstream) Culture, with a capital C, forged by other institutions, using cultural heritage “in the field”, to check and appreciate what had been learnt elsewhere.


This is now about to change: Not least because of digital technologies, knowledge of history is no longer seen as THE key to interpret society. Technology is more than readily fulfilling the demand of ATAWAD connectivity, thus strengthening the present whilst at the same time loosening ties with the past. As French anthropologist Marc Augé wrote in his essay “The Future, “in one or two decades the present has become hegemonic. In the eyes of ordinary mortals it is no longer the result of a slow maturation of the past, it no longer leaves room for possible future scenarios to breathe, rather it is imposed as a crushing fait accompli, whose sudden rise causes the past to disappear and saturates the imagination of the future.”

Thus, the latest generation of cultural tourism is typically coined as an experience, as a demand for interaction with cultural heritage and museums, not filtered by knowledge acquired elsewhere, but triggered by emotion and the present. Cultural heritage sites and museums are no longer required to just confirm and enrich existing cultural baggage, but to produce an instant impression, bringing culture alive and making it tangible. The cultural object itself is there to provoke a general awareness of the profundity of time, beyond historical knowledge and beyond the positioning of object and viewer on a concrete timeline.


New technologies have already revolutionised tourism services completely, and the majority of transactions, communications and bookings are nowadays done online. They can also transform the narrative paradigm of cultural heritage, by coining a new narrative and by breaking with traditional linear storytelling. Thanks to augmented reality (AR) which superimposes content layers and different time frames onto real objects, the historical depth can be recovered and reconstructed – without any pre-required skill on the side of the viewer (the cultural tourist) needed. This opens fantastic opportunities for the creative industries to invent a new narrative for cultural heritage starting off with the worlds of contemporary creativity and the possibilities of expression offered by technology. This is not a work of translation, but of invention, in line with approaches far removed from the world of cultural heritage such as fiction, gamification, and augmented reality. A recent example of how much impact can be generated using new technologies is the first videogame published by an archeological museum in Naples, “Father and Son, which saw more than 500K downloads in 80 days.


“Father and Son”, the first videogame published by an archeological museum (Naples, Italy) and designed by THE ARTS+ speaker Fabio Viola, was an instant success.


Cultural heritage needs to avoid becoming trapped in history: Instead of emulating a “learning theme park”, it has to become a source of cultural creativity which can help design meaning for the future.


Join us at THE ARTS+ Innovation Summit to make this happen!



Ugo Bacchella, President of Fitzcarraldo Foundation


Co-founder, President and Head of the Training Department of Fitzcarraldo, an independent foundation active internationally in research, consultancy, training for arts management and cultural policies and economics. Founder of ArtLab –  the most inspiring and powerful, cross sectorial, independent platform in Italy, dedicated to innovating practices and policies in and through arts and culture – he has been invited as a trainer and speaker in more than 20 countries. Consultant and advisor for public institutions, national and international foundations and cultural organizations on strategic development, feasibility studies, project development. His main interest is to bridging the divide between business worlds, civil society, artists, public authorities, cultural organizations and industries, in order to boost the full potential of art and culture in human development.


About Fondazione Fitzcarraldo

The Fitzcarraldo Foundation is an Italian centre for culture, arts, media management, economics and policies. Its project ArtLab has since 2006 grown into the most powerful cross sectorial platform dedicated to innovating practices and policies in and through arts and culture in Italy.

Fitzcarraldo Foundation is a strategic partner of THE ARTS+ Innovation Summit (Wednesday 11 October) and will host a round table discussion on cultural heritage with the gamification expert Fabio Viola (Italy).


The Innovation Summit is organised as part of ALDUS, the European Book Fairs network, and is co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.