HERKUL: an interdisciplinary research institute co-creating the future of communities through cultural heritage

As an almost 600 years old university, the KU Leuven is both a custodian of its own cultural heritage, as well as an organisation serving society through research endeavours. As a first in the Belgian university landscape, HERKUL wishes to facilitate and support coordinated actions in the domain of cultural heritage within the KU Leuven, as well as in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, in order to become a strategic and innovative player in this transversal, interdisciplinary and hybrid field. The Aristotelian consideration that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts forms the foundation of HERKUL. As such, HERKUL is constituted by communities as diverse as cultural heritage itself. Involving all kinds of academics, researchers, administrators, technicians, students and alumni to facilitate understanding and expertise regarding cultural heritage.

For a successful launch, HERKUL has gathered a  large group of experts from diverse fields associated with cultural heritage. Together, they will provide an expertise capable of facilitating intra-institutional collaborations, extra-institutional partnering, (inter)national visibility, as well as inter- and trans-disciplinary cooperation. HERKUL aims to impact on institutional, national, European and international research programmes, while at the same time fully incorporating knowledge present in the critical mass and savoir faire of the KU Leuven to sustain both its own needs in the domain of cultural heritage, as well as of those beyond the institution.

Cutting edge research

Putting scientific research at the core, and acknowledging the roles and responsibilities of different communities both inside and outside of the KU Leuven, HERKUL aims to become the institutional lynchpin for cultural heritage.


  • To gather knowledge and expertise within KU Leuven in the field of cultural heritage.
  • To become the KU Leuven portal for all things cultural heritage, including the coordination and promotion of activities.
  • To instigate top-level research programmes.
  • To contribute to academic education and expertise-building on cultural heritage.
  • To become a driving force and strategic stakeholder in internal and external networks, organisation and bodies.
  • To engage, respond, and contribute to academic, societal and political challenges of safeguarding and valorising cultural heritage.

Research Priorities:

  • Data science and knowledge sharing
  • Resource for well-being and sustainability
  • Preservation and management
  • Connecting space & time