This paper examines the potential for preserving Europe's cultural heritage in a digital world. After an extensive literature review on the economics of museums and the digitization of cultural heritage, it highlights national and international political initiatives to create cooperative cultural heritage systems. As a mean of achieving global integration while simultaneously keeping institutional independence, this work proposes 'Digital Autonomous Cultural Objects (DACOs)' as reference architecture. This paper illustrates the contribution of DACOs with two real-life projects serving as proof-of-concept. Finally, the paper offers some 'Lessons Learned' and an outlook to wider preservation of Europe's cultural heritage in the digital world.