Strategic Partnership between E-RIHS UK and NHSF

In 2019 the National Heritage Science Forum (NHSF) formed a strategic partnership with that recognised the need to establish as the UK hub of the European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science.

E-RIHS UK is a national heritage science hub comprising thirteen institutional members from universities to research facilities, heritage organisations and museums. It seeks to build a British chapter for an international consortium with a vision to transform research on heritage interpretation, preservation, documentation and management.

The strategic partnership will help develop a distributed heritage science research infrastructure hub in the UK and will open new avenues for engagement between British and international heritage science communities.

Additionally, the partnership helps to strengthen relationships with organisations who already are part of E-RIHS UK such as the National Gallery or the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre.

Once the research infrastructure is launched, E-RIHS UK and the NHSF will be part of a wider research consortium bringing together renowned heritage organisations in sixteen countries. This means that NHSF members will be able to access a range of research facilities and expertise in the UK and internationally, from mobile instrumentation and archival material to integrated databases. Meanwhile, E-RIHS UK will benefit from NHSF’s wide-ranging expertise in the areas of policy engagement, strategic insight, sector research and resource sharing.

On launching the project, May Cassar, national coordinator of E-RIHS UK, said, “this partnership will increase the visibility and strength of UK heritage science distributed infrastructures.” Alastair McCapra, NHSF Chairman, said, “NHSF is delighted to have formed this partnership with E-RIHS UK and sees the opportunities it presents for mutually supportive activity as critical to achieving the step-change in heritage science infrastructure that we need. UK heritage science research has a key role to play in addressing important challenges such as adaptation to climate change or enhanced access to, and understanding of, heritage through developments in digital technology. These challenges are best addressed by working together and this new partnership will help organisations in the UK to do that.”

E-RIHS aims to provide advanced services to the scientific community through bringing together cutting-edge tools and expertise:

(i)              E-RIHS ARCHLAB: access to physical collections, such as objects, technical images, samples and reference materials, analytical data and conservation documentation, as stored in museums, galleries and research institutions

(ii)            E-RIHS DIGILAB: online access to digital tools concerning heritage and data, with the aim to make it FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable). This includes and enables access to searchable registries of datasets, reference collections, thesauri, ontologies etc., and supports data interoperability through the creation of shared knowledge organization systems

(iii)           E-RIHS FIXLAB: large-scale and medium-scale fixed facilities – e.g. particle accelerators, neutron and laser sources and other essentially immovable research facilities including the associated unique expertise

(iv)           E-RIHS MOLAB: access to a comprehensive selection of mobile analytical instrumentation for non-invasive measurements on objects, buildings, and sites, allowing the implementation of complex multi-technique diagnostic projects for in situ investigations.


The partnership with NHSF is part of E-RIHS overall strategy to build connected national and international heritage science research capabilities. As part of the new partnership, in the first place NHSF representatives will join the E-RIHS steering committee during the forthcoming annual meeting in January 2019.

Report on UK heritage science capability for UKRIHS (2019) (pdf)

News release on heritage science in UKRI research infrastructure programme (Nov 2019)

Read the press release announcing the strategic partnership (Dec 2018) 

Find out more about E-RIHS UK