Italgas is owner of a rich historical archive, a library completed with a newspaper archive and collections of technical and scientific objects, preserved in the building of Largo Regio Parco 11 in Turin.
In the last few years, Italgas has pervasively embraced the digital transformation, by playing the role of pioneer company.
Hence, the intuition to use the new technologies even with the aim of boosting – both in time and space – the value of an industrial, cultural, and artistic heritage that covers over 200 years of history. The goal is therefore to make the archive accessible to a wider public and to preserve it in an optimal way over time, so that it can inspire future generations. The Italgas Heritage Lab has thus taken shape, also leveraging on the collaboration with the Giorgio Cini Foundation.
We discuss this topic with Katya Corvino, Head of Sustainability at Italgas.
What is the value created by this initiative?
Through the new opportunities provided by the application of digital technologies, Italgas will share as widely as possible a heritage that it has protected and nurtured over time. Academics, enthusiasts, and researchers will have access to the documents and museum exhibits that are part of the collection, also through the experience of virtual reality. We want to make it possible for everyone to know in depth the historical moments that have marked the evolution of our business and reflect the social, economic, and technical transformation of an entire country.
What is the nature of this cultural heritage?
Italgas historical archive contains documents and testimonies of real historical significance because the life of our Company has always been tied with the development of Italy and its socio-economic transformation. These are valuable collections even from a quantitative viewpoint. We already have over 1,000 linear meters of documents, with a forecast of reaching 3.5 km, in addition to 6,000 volumes and magazines, 35,000 prints, photos and posters, 350 vintage appliances and instruments.
How will you change the fruition of the archive materials?
We will use a new way to describe, inventory and digitize the archival collections, while deeply rethinking the cataloguing of both the library and the newspapers. We will also make 3D scans of the objects: not just instruments related to the energy world, but also archaeological findings recovered during the excavations for the laying of gas networks. Thus, we will create a pool of Big Data that will be available with no limitation, through a fuller experience. Just think that among the papers kept in the archive, we have parchments dating back to 1288; digitization will make them available to everyone, in a safer and more usable way, through a software for smart computer vision.
You chose to carry out this initiative in partnership with the Giorgio Cini Foundation. What are the opportunities from this collaboration?
Through the great and renowned expertise of the Cini Foundation, we will have access to technology, methodology and tools of the international project ARCHive, dedicated to the analysis and storage of the cultural heritage of Venice. We will also have relations with the Time Machine consortium, a circuit that brings together over 14 thousand institutions and more than 100 thousand professionals, investigating the past with the aim to map social and cultural evolutions.
What is the link between the Heritage Lab and the sustainability projects of Italgas?
Mr. Paolo Gallo, our CEO, reminded us in a recent LinkedIn post “Cicerone believed History was witness of time and a teacher of life. Many adopted this concept with the aim to exhort others not to ignore history, in order to avoid the risk to be deprived not only of the past, but also of the future”. This is the essence of the spirit that drives this project, which aims to preserve and enhance the cultural heritage of our archive, by creating a lab open to both present and future generations.