European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science
General Info


E-RIHS Central Hub, hosted by CNR-ISPC, c/o Manifattura Tabacchi, Via delle Cascine 35, 50144 Firenze (IT)

legal status



physical, virtual, remote

E-RIHS is a pan-European distributed research infrastructure dedicated to furthering research and innovation in heritage science, the interdisciplinary domain that combines STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and SSH (Social Sciences and Humanities) to better knowledge, conservation, and appreciation of cultural heritage. E-RIHS is structured around a Central Hub that coordinates with National Nodes, featuring fixed and mobile instruments at the national level of recognized excellence, physically accessible collections, archives and virtually accessible heritage data. With this organizational structure, E-RIHS strives to provide access to a broad array of state-of-the-art scientific equipment, advanced methodologies, data, training, repositories for standardized data storage, analysis and interpretation. The goal is to empower the community to progress in heritage science and enhance global access to its distributed facilities in a coordinated and efficient manner. The vision of E-RIHS is to ensure that heritage remains meaningful, relevant, and accessible in a diverse and changing world for the benefit of present and future citizens. Its mission is to serve the heritage science community by providing users, including both scholars and practitioners, with centrally managed access to expertise, know-how, research capacity, and resources through four integrated physical and virtual platforms. These are: ARCHLAB, on-site physical or digital archives of scientific information and reference collections; FIXLAB, fixed-located analytical facilities to study cultural heritage samples or movable objects; MOLAB, mobile labs and expert staff performing non-invasive and multi-technique diagnostic measurements of cultural heritage on-site; DIGILAB, virtual access to digital data repositories complemented with tools for creating new knowledge. ARCHLAB, MOLAB and FIXLAB have been already operational in previous European projects, while DIGILAB is currently in development. E-RIHS supports a wide variety of research, from object-focused case studies to large-scale long-term research projects. It also promotes best practices and delivers vanguard training through the HS Academy (Heritage Science Academy), while integrating world-leading European facilities into a unique organization that plays a significant cohesive role in the global heritage science community. The global dimension of E-RIHS is also underscored by its proposal to establish a Global Research Infrastructure, which was submitted to the G7 GSO (Group of Senior Officials on Global Research Infrastructures) in 2015. In this effort, the intergovernmental organization ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) is a key partner, positioned as a prospective permanent observer of E-RIHS ERIC-to-be.
Total Investment 69 M€ Design 25 M€ Preparation 4 M€ Implementation 40 M€ Operation 9 M€/year Project 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 2018 2020 2022 2024 2026 2028 2030 2032 2034 2036 2038 RM06 RM08 RM10 RM16 RM18 RM21 LA24
Roadmap Entry
as project: 2016
Total investment
69 M€
Design Phase
25 M€
Preparation Phase
4 M€
Implementation Phase
40 M€
Operation start
9 M€/year
Since being listed in the ESFRI Roadmap in 2016, E-RIHS has finished its preparatory phase and is now nearing the completion of its Implementation Phase (E-RIHS IP), expected to finish by the third quarter of 2024. In March 2023, E-RIHS submitted the Step 2 proposal to establish the ERIC (European Research Infrastructure Consortium) and is awaiting the assessment from the European Commission. E-RIHS features a distributed structure, with its legal seat and Central Hub located in Florence, Italy, opened in October 2023, as the centralized access point to facilities operated by the National Nodes across partner countries. E-RIHS’s application for ERIC status includes Italy as the host country, with Belgium, Cyprus, France, Greece, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, and the United Kingdom as prospective members, along with Austria and Sweden as prospective observers, and ICCROM as a prospective permanent observer. To date, nine countries have confirmed their co-signature letters for Step 2. E-RIHS is actively engaging countries inside and outside Europe (e.g., Brazil, Mexico, and the USA), which are already collaborating with the E-RIHS community, aiming to establish E-RIHS as a Global Research Infrastructure. As E-RIHS transitions to ERIC status, interim governance structures have been implemented mirroring those expected in the final ERIC setup. The interim General Assembly, established in December 2019, acts as the decision-making body, while the interim Committee of National Nodes, formed in November 2021, oversees scientific matters. An interim Director General was appointed in March 2024 to facilitate a smooth transition to ERIC status. E-RIHS is expected to start operating in 2025.
E-RIHS is a hybrid research infrastructure offering integrated and centrally managed access to four physical and virtual platforms, which encompass facilities, resources and data complemented with the expertise of E-RIHS teams. The four platforms are ARCHLAB, MOLAB, FIXLAB, and the upcoming DIGILAB. ARCHLAB provides access to physical and local digital collections stored in museums, galleries, conservation and research institutions. FIXLAB provides access to large-scale facilities for in dept studies of micro samples or movable objects. MOLAB provides access to mobile instrumentation for non-invasive measurements, allowing in situ investigation in the frame of multi-technique diagnostic projects. DIGILAB offers digital access to data from ARCHLAB, FIXLAB, and MOLAB complemented with tool to enhance knowledge creation while ensuring data interoperability and compliance with FAIR principles, in line with EOSC. After the introduction of remote access during the pandemic in one of the FIXLAB providers, both FIXLAB and MOLAB are exploring new remote access options. E-RIHS also runs the HS Academy, a training initiative designed to empower students, researchers, and professionals with the skills necessary to drive forward research and fully use E-RIHS access services. E-RIHS organizes conferences, events, and engages in policy advocacy, and also supports institutions in the development of standards and good practices. In 2024, E-RIHS celebrated 20 years of providing access via EU transnational projects. Given its experience and the current number of National Nodes, E-RIHS ERIC is poised to grant access to over 30 facilities and 140 services. This, coupled with virtual access through DIGILAB, ensure E-RIHS’s continued leadership in heritage science research and innovation.
D I G I T E N E E N V H & F P S E
E-RIHS is part of the SSHOC, the Social Science and Humanities Open Cluster, which is one of the five science clusters in the context of EOSC. The E-RIHS involvement in the SSHOC cluster provides an opportunity for exchanging best practices and cooperating on future initiatives in the domain, which is beneficial to the current development of E-RIHS DIGILAB. Furthermore, E-RIHS collaborates closely with European cultural heritage initiatives like the JPI CH (Joint Programming Initiative on Cultural Heritage, and is contributing to discussions on the EU Partnership Resilient Cultural Heritage via ARCHE (Alliance for Research on Cultural Heritage in Europe, To strengthen collaboration, a Memorandum of Understanding between E-RIHS, ARCHE, and JPI CH is being finalized. Joint activities include enhancing E-RIHS’s user strategy, promoting access facility use in transnational projects, organizing training through HS Academy, and capacity-building for cultural heritage practitioners, potential E-RIHS users.