UNICUM is a development project commissioned by the  Stichting Academisch Erfgoed (SAE) and carried out by the classic five Dutch universities (Leiden, Utrecht, Amsterdam, Delft and Groningen). UNICUM, short for ‘University Collections and University Museums’ aims to incorporate in one site both archives and museum – and library collections. Since it is expected to contribute to a national portal of Dutch Cultural Heritage as well as to lead to the spread of knowledge of metadata and technical infrastructure across the different cultural heritage sectors, the UNICUM project is financed with the help of a national grant.

The project aims to create a structured and integrated accessibility to the academic collections on the internet by: 

  • the use of international standards to stimulate exchange
  • examining the potential of EAD as exchange standard for (non archival) collections and for the structuring of related items
  • determining a common method for registration on collection level
  • formulating ‘Best Practice Guidelines’ for registration of material on collection- and item level
  • choosing available and established thesauri which contain all aspects of the future UNICUM content
  • developing an integrated format for thematic- and highlight descriptions
  • focusing on the interrelation between items on the one hand and collections as a whole on the other and vice versa, an interrelation which tells the story of and gives meaning to cultural heritage
  • harvesting of the content of the aggregation by Europeana

Instead of concentrating on generating content, in UNICUM the focus is on supporting cultural institutes from different sectors to apply metadata according to the same content standard and the development of a technical infrastructure for various different types of material of museums, libraries and archives on both collection and item level.

Digital images created for UNICUM preferably adhere to the DEN quality standards ( The future UNICUM website will only present large thumbnails of images. These in their turn are linked to their own jpg’s on the websites of the participating academic institutions.

Europeana will harvest the aggregation on a regular basis via the OAI-MPH harvesting protocol. The metadata of the different universities will not be harvested yet within this project. The UNICUM metadata will be updated by regular exports of the institutes and will be added to the UNICUM portal.

Content standard: ISAD(G) and DACS
Data structure: EAD

Content standard: MovE and CCO
Data structure: MODS / Dublin Core

The Digital Production Centre (DPC) of the University of Amsterdam is responsible for the technical infrastructure within of project. The UNICUM infrastructure will be based on the Finding Aids (EAD) and DLXS software of the University of Michigan. See:

Project duration
The project started in March 2010 and will be finished in February 2012.


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