Conference - Sustaining Objects and Places: Engaging with Cultural Heritage in the 21st century

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Monday, 20 April, 2020 to Wednesday, 22 April, 2020
Sunday, 15 December, 2019


The title of this conference acknowledges the dual nature of our relationship with objects and sites. We sustain them in a number of ways that include, but are not limited to, how we conceive of and think about them, how we preserve and maintain them and how we fund them, but at the same time they sustain "us" by enabling identities to be asserted and maintained and by contributing to wellbeing. The conference title also asks the question whether the models and practices (economic, intellectual and technological) that have served us in the past continue to work in the 21st century. Over the past 50 years there has been a tremendous expansion in what we identify as cultural heritage as well as the number of museums and sites dedicated to preserving and exhibiting it. Additionally, stresses, such as climate change, rising number of tourists, population growth, as well as governmental and educational priorities in many countries raise questions about whether we can truly preserve everything of significance. For many conservators and heritage professionals, public engagement and "impact" have become key metrics in assessing both the feasibility and the success of projects. But this raises questions about how sustainable these efforts are. Are we really winning the hearts and minds of the public and impacting approaches to public funding or are we providing momentary diversions? Who benefits from engagement and how much? How do we assess whether the outcomes were truly successful or merely popular?

Emerging technologies such as digital preservation, predictive modelling and crowd funding offer new tools and new challenges for both planning and preservation. In a year that has seen vast sums of money pledged for the restoration of Notre Dame in Paris, before even an assessment of the damage or needs had been completed, and has also been marked by dissension about how and when the funds should be made available to that project and how funds are allocated to other preservation projects, it is important to consider how patronage may be shaped in the years ahead and whether traditional approaches to working must be changed to accommodate them.

Papers are invited that critically analyze the economics of conserving and/or preserving cultural heritage, that examine whether outreach and "impact" do produce sustainable results and how we monitor and nurture those results. Papers that deal with the role that any of the following topics play in sustaining objects are also invited:
• Marketing and funding
• Sustainability
• Advocacy and Outreach
• Interpretation
• Belief and Culture
• Wellness
• Climate change

Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words to Dr. Emily Williams by 5pm December 15th 2019. Paper selection will be completed by Jan 15th and authors notified then.