ReACH Declaration





This declaration promotes the vision that works of art and cultural heritage should be preserved and shared as widely as possible throughout the world.

Through advances in technology and connectivity, we now have a revolutionary opportunity to enhance learning, creativity and innovation, and to reach new audiences worldwide, through the reproduction and sharing of works of art and cultural heritage (“Works”). Furthermore, digital technologies can enable us to record, document and, in some instances, recreate Works that are threatened by environmental hazards, conflicts, terrorism, rapid economic development, mass tourism, thefts and other natural and human-made disasters (“Endangered Works”) or that have been lost.

For cultural institutions that hold collections for the benefit of the public, the opportunity to provide open access now or in the future to Works in a digital format is an exciting new frontier in their mission to preserve and transmit knowledge, culture and history for present and future generations. Such opportunities also present responsibilities. Digital Records need to be responsibly created and safeguarded for the long-term to ensure integrity as well as retrieval and reuse by future generations. Furthermore, as the means and skills required to use and access digital technology are not distributed evenly around the world, it is incumbent on those with the capacity to do so to provide support and training to those with fewer resources.

This Declaration is intended for both institutions and individuals to promote the production, sharing and preservation of digital records and reproductions (‘Records’). Owners and Stewards of Works and others involved in the process of generating these Records are encouraged to disseminate and use the ReACH Declaration as widely as possible.

The text herein is the result of an extensive global consultation on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the 1867 Henry Cole Convention for Promoting Universally Reproduction of Works of Art for the Benefits of All Countries. The Convention, inspiring in its clarity, practicality and openness to the creation and sharing of reproductions, served as the basis for the establishment of this new ReACH Declaration.

The ReACH Declaration for Promoting Universally the Reproduction, Storage and Sharing of Works of Art and Cultural Heritage Through Digital Technology was adopted at the final ReACH roundtable held at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London on 8 December 2017. 


Article 1 – Stewards of Works are encouraged, for the benefit of the public of today and future generations, to take advantage of technological advances to create Records of Works entrusted to their care, for purposes of documenting and preserving all Works but in particular Endangered Works.

Article 2 – Those involved in the process of documenting and producing digital Records are encouraged to work to then - current accepted standards that will support academic study and monitoring the condition of the original object.

Article 3 – The process of documenting and producing Records should be non-invasive for the Works involved. The preservation of the Work itself remains of paramount importance. Digital Records are a tool that can support preservation but are not a substitute for preservation. 

Article 4 – The process used to produce Records as well as the intended purpose for each specific Record should be documented to enable better usage and interpretation of such Records today and for future generations.

Article 5 – Before making and sharing Records, the historic context of and possible cultural and national sensitivities about the Works should be considered, as well as applicable legal and ethical constraints, and the rights of donors and third parties. Transparency and participation by communities or cultural groups with ties to the Works should be encouraged. 


Article 6 – Digital Records should be contemporaneously archived and maintained by the Steward of the Work. The Works should be recorded in a manner that renders them likely to be retrievable and reproducible even if technology changes. Enabling the data migration on a continuous basis is of paramount importance.

Article 7 – The Steward of the Work should own or, at a minimum, retain unrestricted and perpetual rights to use, reproduce and share the Records, unless applicable law or a contractual agreement requires otherwise. 

Article 8 – Digital Records should be linked to metadata that enriches the digital asset for research, education and preservation.

Article 9 – Digital and Physical Records should be marked or otherwise identified as copies using methods that are sustainable and, to the extent feasible, do not rely on technologies that may become obsolete. Those involved in the process of making these Records are encouraged to develop an international system to identify copies. 


Article 10 – Stewards of Works are encouraged to make Records freely available to the public for personal use and enjoyment and for non-commercial research, educational, scientific and scholarly uses.

Article 11 – Stewards of Works and other parties involved in the process of documenting and producing Records are encouraged to share those Records of Works as widely as possible, but in particular to reach new audiences, especially people with special needs. This includes, where possible, proactively addressing issues of equal access to digital technology on a global scale. 

Article 12 – Stewards of Works and other parties involved in the process of documenting and producing Records of Works are encouraged to use established and standardized licensing schemes and symbols that convey to the public the manner in which the Records of Works may be shared and reused, including open access content.

Article 13 – When Records are shared and disseminated, Stewards of Works involved should provide attribution to the original author of the Works and, where practicable, provide credit to those involved in the process of documenting and producing Records of Works. 


Article 14 – Stewards of Works with resources, skills and access to digital technology are encouraged, as much as they possibly can, to provide support for and training to develop the skills needed to document and produce high-quality Records to other cultural institutions in the world who lack such means.

Article 15 – Stewards and other parties engaged in making Records should share digital technology, where feasible, and collaborate on strategies to make it more affordable. 

Article 16 – Stewards of Works and other parties engaged in making Records are encouraged to work collaboratively to develop compatible systems to enable the exchange of recorded data and metadata on a global scale. A set of specific technological standards and practical guidelines will be produced by a ReACH technical committee. These standards and guidelines will be revised as technology evolves.

Article 17 – In light of the major infrastructure requirements to ensure long-term preservation and migration of digital Records, publicprivate partnerships should be encouraged as well as collaborations between countries. 


A. ReACH stands for Reproduction of Art and Cultural Heritage

B. “Work” means a work of art or other cultural item. The term Work is intended to be broadly construed and includes, but is not limited to, works of art in all media and eras, e.g., paintings, works on paper, sculptures, murals, antiquities, monuments, architecture and architectural elements, and archaeological sites.

C. “Endangered Work” means Work threatened by environmental hazards, conflicts, terrorism, mass tourism and other natural and human-made disasters. 

D. “Steward” means any governmental or private entity that owns or possesses Works held for the benefit of the public. The term Steward is intended to be broadly construed and includes, but is not limited to, museums, sites, monuments, libraries, repositories, archives, places of worship, whether governmental, sovereign, or private.

E. “Record” means a digital recording or reproduction of a Work and the data generated in the process of faithfully capturing images and data of the Work so as to create a high quality digital or physical reproduction of the Work.

F. “High quality” means a level of quality sufficient to constitute a representation of a Work as faithful as possible.



The 2017 ReACH Declaration was inspired by Henry Cole's 1867 Convention which called for 'the mutual exchange of copies' across European collections of works of art for the benefit of the public. 

Read the 1867 Convention, drawn up by Henry Cole, the founding director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, by clicking the link below. 
ReACH is a global initiative for the Reproduction of Art and Cultural Heritage. 




1867 CONVENTION by Henry Cole