In Memoriam

David Arnold

Professor David Arnold died suddenly on 25th October 2016.

David was the founder of the Cultural Informatics Research Group in 2002, and he remained its director until his retirement in Spring 2016.

David’s vision was of a multi- and inter-disciplinary research group which could provide academic research in support of the cultural heritage sector. Under his guidance, the group developed into a vibrant inter-disciplinary community, holding major European research grants, collaborating with major national and international museums, archives, heritage agencies and businesses, hosting events, visitors and students from across the world, and celebrated in a major 10th anniversary event in 2014.

David’s career spanned many realms. He was involved in over 45 years of research in the design of interactive computer graphics systems and their application in architecture, engineering, cartography, scientific visualisation and, over the past 18 years, in cultural heritage.

David was educated at the University of Cambridge and had an MA in Engineering and Computer Science and a PhD in Architecture. He subsequently spent 24 years at the University of East Anglia and 14 years at the University of Brighton.

At Brighton he was Dean of the Faculty of Management and Information Sciences and later the University’s Director of Research Initiatives and founding Dean of the Brighton Doctoral College, all whilst simultaneously being the inspiration behind and the Director of the Cultural Informatics Research Group.

But it was David’s impact on the cultural heritage community for which he was best known. David was co-ordinator of the EPOCH Network of Excellence under the EU’s Framework 6 programme (FP6), involving 95 partners. It was this project perhaps more than most that sealed David’s position as a leading light in the European digital heritage community.

More recently he coordinated 3D-COFORM, a large scale integrating research project under FP7. He also co-founded the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering for Arts, Heritage and Archaeology, a collaboration between UCL, Oxford and Brighton which will deliver 60 post-doctoral future leaders for Heritage Science.

He was the founding Editor-in-Chief of the ACM Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage and was a past Chair of the European Association for Computer Graphics.

For those people fortunate enough to work with David as part of the Cultural Informatics team, this loss is that of both a fantastic leader and colleague, as well as a wonderfully supportive friend.

With so many roles, David touched the lives of many in the University and well beyond, but it was his humanity that truly defined him. Compassion and warmth were always at the core of everything he did and, in his team, we all benefited from his amazing generosity, his huge sense of humour and his sheer kindness. David was an absolute gentleman, unstinting in nature, supportive, scrupulously fair and very caring.

He will be greatly missed.

Eurographics Obituary

Euromed 2016

If you would like to leave a personal tribute to David, or a message for his family, please use the comments box below


I was very saddened to hear of the death of David Arnold. As one who’s had 12 happy years since I worked, it’s very sad that he was unable to have so long a retirement, but I know he’ll have enjoyed the work he continued until very recently.

I first met David about thirty years ago at Eurographics conferences in Amsterdam and Vienna when he led relaxed evening excursions to multinational restaurants. Later, I became an external examiner to one of the courses he was involved with at UEA, and got to know the depth and quality of his professional work. The enjoyment continued as I was honoured to be picked up at Norwich station by Dave in his modern Morgan, a magnificent red monster of which he was justifiably proud.

In Robin Forrest’s department and with the help of colleagues such as Andy Day and a stream of bright students, Dave created visually convincing computer models of large historical environments at a time when memory was preciously scarce. I examined many students there, and it was clear to me how much they benefitted from Dave’s teaching and from the platforms he created for them to exploit. He was genuinely innovative in developing new methods for creation of the large data bases needed to depict such natural environments.

Although his move to Brighton coincided with my retirement, so I didn’t keep up with his latest work, it is clear that he was equally well thought of in his new professional life at Brighton.

I send my condolences to his family and former colleagues.

Huw Jones
(former Professor of Computer Graphics at the Lansdown Centre for Electronic Arts, Middlesex University)

David was THE best 'boss' anyone could ever have. I had the pleasure of working with him for four years and during that time we also became firm friends. It is hard to put into words exactly what he meant to me as it is hard to believe he is gone. I will miss him with all my heart.

A truly remarkable person in every way. In the short time I spent in his company David was warm, generous and an intellectual giant. It was a privilege to know him.

I'm so touched by everyone's kind words about my father, in both professional and personal terms. I just wanted to say a huge thank you to you all.

He was very proud of what he achieved, but much more proud of his teams' successes.

Keep up the great work!

Will x

On behalf of the whole consortium of the EC project EAGLE, we would like to express our regret and sorrow for the departure of David Arnold. We have appreciated his clever and generous judgment as reviewer of our
project, and we are going to miss his keen observations, his positive encouragment and ... his English humor.
As the Roman inscriptions say, sit tibi terra levis (may the earth be light on you).

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