Heritage in Peril – Digital Approaches to Preservation

Join swissnex in New York and Swiss Touch for an event at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts on digital approaches to preserving at-risk heritage.

Event Details


Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
1 East 78th Street, New York, New York 02115 United States


October 23, 2019 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm America/New York (UTC-05:00)



Join swissnex in New York and Swiss Touch for an event at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts on digital approaches to preserving at-risk heritage

How does technology help safeguard cultural heritage? How can digital technologies (digitization, open access databases, 3D modeling, etc.) help preserve at-risk heritage? What is the broader role of the digital humanities in cultural preservation?

“Heritage in Peril – Digital Approaches to Preservation” will explore these questions with an introduction by Isaac Pante of the University of Lausanne (Unil) and a keynote presentation by Patrick Michel of Unil. A panel discussion featuring Dominik Landwehr, a Swiss expert in digital culture, and Sebastian Heath of New York University and moderated by New York Times journalist and author Patricia Cohen will follow.

The University of Lausanne is home to the Collart Collection, the world’s most comprehensive archeological archive of the Temple of Baalshamin in Palmyra, Syria, which was destroyed by ISIS in 2015. Through an international collaboration which digitized the archives of the Collart Collection, researchers at the University of Lausanne were able to create a digital double of the Temple. The project has laid the foundation for further research and for alternative approaches to preserving the cultural heritage related to the Temple, but it also raises important ethical questions having to do with the role of technology in the humanities. The panel conversation will address this intriguing topic by bringing together distinguished experts from the field.


6:00pm Doors Open

6:30pm Program Begins

8:00pm Reception

9:00pm Doors Close


The Collart-Palmyra Project was launched in 2017 by the University of Lausanne’s Institute of Archeology and Sciences of Antiquity with the aim of digitizing the archives of Paul Collart, one of the most extensive collections of pictures, notes, and drawings from the Temple of Baalshamîn in Syria.

Swiss Touch is an event series and social media campaign pushing Swiss innovation and creative ideas forward, through the participation of prominent Swiss and American stakeholders, a selection of compelling topics and unusual locations.

swissnex in New York creates opportunities for researchers, entrepreneurs, artists, and other future-makers to reach beyond their current capacity and make meaningful, collaborative connections with the top innovators in Switzerland and North America.


Patrick Michel

Patrick studied Classical Archeology and Ancient History at the University of Lausanne before specializing in Assyriology at the University of Geneva, where he also holds a PhD; he was awarded scholarships from the Fondation Ernst Boninchi and the Société Académique vaudoise. Patrick has done research at the Swiss Institute in Rome (of which he currently presides the alumni), the Pontifical Biblical Institute, and has taught at the universities of Bern, Geneva, Lausanne and Rome. In 2013 he received the Fellowship of the International University of Venice for the interdisciplinary seminar Between East and West. He dedicated an exhibition to the collection of René Dussaud (1858-1958), Conservator of the Near Eastern Department of the Louvre with the publication of a catalogue. He also participated in several archaeological campaigns in Syria with the American University of Beirut. He is now finishing a Diploma of Advanced studies in Art Law.

Patrick currently leads the Collart-Palmyra Project at the University of Lausanne as Senior Researcher and he manages Fonds d’Archives de Maurice Dunand.

Isaac Pante

Isaac is Senior Lecturer in Digital Culture and Digital Publishing in the Language and Information Sciences Department (Faculty of Arts, UNIL) which he presided from 2016 to 2018. Writer and programmer, member of several committees devoted to digital education, he promotes disciplinary hybridization and contributes to the digital empowerment of Humanities and social science students.

Since April 2019, he is Scientific Adviser on Digital Transition for the Rectorate of the University of Lausanne.

Dominik Landwehr

Dominik Landwehr is the publisher of the series Edition Digital Culture that started in 2014. In this edition and throughout his career, Dominik has explored how the digital transformation is influencing culture through the emergence of robotics, big data, hacking culture, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality. From 1998 to 2019 he was the Head of the Pop and New Media Department at the Migros Culture Percentage, one of the largest private cultural funds in Switzerland. Previously, he worked as a journalist for various media and as a delegate for the International Committee of the Red Cross. Since 2019 he is working as an author and a teacher in the field of media and cultural science.

Dominik holds a PhD in media and cultural sciences from Basel University.

Sebastian Heath

Sebastian is a specialist in Roman pottery, numismatics and the application of digital technologies to the study of the ancient Mediterranean world. He is a Research Assistant Professor at NYU’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World and a member of the American Numismatic Society. He has participated in excavation and survey in Cyprus, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Current research includes the publication of Roman pottery from the Lower City at Troy. He is co-editor with Billur Tekkök of the digital publication Greek, Roman and Byzantine Pottery at Ilion (Troia) and also co-edits The Pylos Regional Archaeological Project: Internet Edition.

Sebastian has served as the Vice President for Professional Responsibilities of the Archaeological Institute of America and is a Consulting Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Patricia Cohen (moderator)

Patricia covers the national economy for The New York Times and is the author of “In Our Prime: The Fascinating History and Promising Future of Middle Age” (Scribner). Patricia joined The Times in 1997 as Ideas Editor to create and launch the Arts & Ideas section, and later oversaw the paper’s theater coverage. An award-winning reporter, she has written extensively about ideas, books and the arts, and worked as an investigative reporter in the Culture department. Before joining The Times, Patricia worked at The Washington Post and Rolling Stone magazine, and did a stint working for a wire service in India. She started her journalism career at Newsday and New York Newsday as a member of the editorial board, and then political editor. She covered City Hall and the federal courts before becoming the editor of the Sunday opinion section, Currents.

She attended Cornell University and graduate school at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School.