Representing a Space-Based Digital Archive on Historical Maps: A User-Centered Design Approach

  • Letizia BolliniEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 919)


Many of the cultural heritage assets stored in archives are related to past events of whom they are primary or indirect document sources. Furthermore, they are concerned not only with the time evolution, but also with the spatial locations. The richness and complexity of these relationship get often lost when archives are organized and digitized. Portals and websites let access information according to a logical and hierarchical structure: a linear sequence of texts and documents. When displayed on a 2D synchronic space or a map – such as Google Map or OpenGIS – representation is often limited to a distribution of pins. A visual approach to this data could offer a more in-depth and engaging way to understand the facts reported in documents. Moreover, if the cultural heritage can be read along a timeline also representing the environmental evolution along history. The paper presents and discusses how to visualize archival data on historical maps to connect both the document sources – photos, paintings, texts, manuscripts, and so on – and the spatial locations. The design approach, which put people at the center of the process of knowledge sharing, is exemplified by a range of benchmarked best practices and a recent case study.


Cultural heritage Digital archives design Space-based data representation Historical maps experience Spatial interface design 



The activity presented in the paper is part of the research project promoted by the Azienda di Servizi alla Persona “Golgi Redaelli”. Special thanks to Marco Bescapè and Lucia Aiello, leaders and coordinators of the project and the partner associations network. Thank you to Sara Radice, Fabio Sturaro and Michele Zonca with whom we designed and developed both the archive and the historical maps section; thanks to all the archivists and users who helped us to test, assess and improve the project:


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Milano-BicoccaMilanItaly

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