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What makes a city into a cultural success? And how is this success related to economic growth? Over the next five years, the University of Amsterdam will annually invest in research into the Dutch capital’s cultural industries from 1600 to the present.

An annual amount of €428, 000.00 will be made available for the project ‘Creative Amsterdam: An E-Humanities Perspective’ (CREATE), which forms part of the UvA’s Cultural Heritage and Identity research priority area. 

Long tradition

The UvA has a long tradition of research regarding cultural heritage. In CREATE, researchers will link this expertise to innovative approaches from the digital humanities, such as network analysis, data visualisation and 3D reconstruction. Many collections in Amsterdam have recently been digitised. This makes possible the integration of different historical data ranging from text, painting and music to film and new media. As part of the project, researchers in the humanities will work closely with information scientists in developing new search tools in order to recognise patterns. The combined analysis will reveal how the communication, cooperation and competition between cultural entrepreneurs contribute to the rise of a creative city.

Amsterdam, which pairs four centuries of creative industries to a relatively small population, is an ideal case for studying cultural complexity. The project therefore aims at becoming world-leading in the study of creative cities.


CREATE builds on recent collaboration between the UvA and private business partners, such as the Centre for Digital Humanities and the Digital Heritage Lab. The project will also result in, amongst others, the establishment of a new chair in Historical Data Collections. With CREATE, the University will continue to expand its infrastructure for a new generation of digitally equipped humanities scholars.