Survey of 3D digital heritage repositories and platforms




3D model, portals, repositories, digital cultural heritage, virtual heritage, survey


Despite the increasing number of three-dimensional (3D) model portals and online repositories catering for digital heritage scholars, students and interested members of the general public, there are very few recent academic publications that offer a critical analysis when reviewing the relative potential of these portals and online repositories. Solid reviews of the features and functions they offer are insufficient; there is also a lack of explanations as to how these assets and their related functionality can further the digital heritage (and virtual heritage) field, and help in the preservation, maintenance, and promotion of real-world 3D heritage sites and assets. What features do they offer? How could their feature list better cater for the needs of the GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives and museums) sector? This article’s priority is to examine the useful features of 8 institutional and 11 commercial repositories designed specifically to host 3D digital models. The available features of their associated 3D viewers, where applicable, are also analysed, connecting recommendations for future-proofing with the need to address current gaps and weaknesses in the scholarly field of 3D digital heritage. Many projects do not address the requirements stipulated by charters, such as access, reusability, and preservation. The lack of preservation strategies and examples highlights the oxymoronic nature of virtual heritage (oxymoronic in the sense that the virtual heritage projects themselves are seldom preserved). To study these concerns, six criteria for gauging the usefulness of the 3D repositories to host 3D digital models and related digital assets are suggested. The authors also provide 13 features that would be useful additions for their 3D viewers.


  • A survey of relevant features from eight institutional and eleven commercial online 3D repositories in the scholarly fieldof 3D digital heritage.

  • Presents a critical review of their hosting services and 3D model viewer features.

  • Proposes six features to enhance services of 3D repositories to support the GLAM sector, heritage scholars andheritage communities.


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Author Biographies

Erik Champion, Curtin University

Professor and UNESCO Chair Cultural Heritage and Visualisation atMedia, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry, Faculty of Humanities, Curtin University, Perth, Australia.UNESCO Chair of Cultural Heritage and Visualisation, and Professor atMedia Culture and Creative Arts, in the Humanities Faculty of Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia. The purpose of the Chair is to promote an integrated system of research, training, information and documentation on virtual heritage sites and facilitate collaboration between high-level, internationally-recognized researchers and teaching staff ofCurtin Universityand other institutions throughout the world.

Hafizur Rahaman, Curtin University

Dr Hafizur Rahaman is a UNESCO Research Fellow at Media Culture and Creative Arts, in the Humanities Faculty of Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia. He has been actively involved in heritage research, visualisation and interpretation for the last 12 years and has a PhD degree in Digital Heritage Interpretation from The National University of Singapore.


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How to Cite

Champion, E., & Rahaman, H. (2020). Survey of 3D digital heritage repositories and platforms. Virtual Archaeology Review, 11(23), 1–15.