Digital Debate: Do-It-Yourself technologies

Bridging digital and material in cultural heritage settings

Tuesday 3 June 2014, 5-7 pm, Newcastle Business School

Guest speaker: Dr Luigina Ciolfi, from the Communication and Computing Research Centre, Sheffield Hallam University.


Interactive digital technology has been employed in cultural heritage settings for several decades. However, while providing visitors and staff with novel opportunities for engagement and interpretation, such technologies have also created a divide between digital information and material heritage holdings, and between those institutions who can afford to experiment and innovate in their use of technology and those who have limited resources and other constraints in place.

In recent years, emerging movements such as Do-It-Yourself (DIY) and digital fabrication have created new opportunities to engage with novel technologies, and are increasingly affecting the way in which heritage technologies are ideated, designed and maintained.

In this talk, current developments of the DIY approach to cultural heritage technologies will be presented and discussed, as well as some open questions regarding the new challenges surrounding ownership, control and community participation in heritage DIY initiatives. Particular focus will be on the EU research project “meSch – Material Encounters in Digital Cultural Heritage“, which is working towards the release of an open DIY platform for the design and implementation of tangible interactive artefacts in cultural heritage exhibits, and the establishment of a related community of interest around this technology.

This event is co-hosted by ICCHS and Newcastle University Business School, with support from Newcastle Institute for Creative Arts Practice (NICAP). This is a free event but advance registration is required.

Research Seminar: Cultural profiling – a new approach

ICCHS Research Seminar,  Wednesday 30th April, 1-2pm, Room 1.06, 18 Windsor Terrace

Visiting speaker: Laurie Hanquinet, Lecturer, Dept. of Sociology, University of York

Cultural profiling: a new approach to exploring museum visitors’ relationships to art

The existing literature suggests that a fractioning of the audience inside art museums is taking place. This may not be immediately visible through the prism of socio-demographic indicators but Laurie Hanquinet argues that it becomes obvious when attention is paid to the diversity of peoples’ cultural ‘profiles’. Using qualitative and quantitative data about the audience of the six main museums of modern and contemporary art in Belgium, Hanquinet demonstrates that people characterized by similar cultural tastes and practices use similar strategies to interpret their relationship to culture, art and museums. People with a comparable cultural profile belong to the same ‘interpretive community’ (Fish; Hooper-Greenhill) and can be associated to specific places of residence that are coherent with their vision of art. In this presentation Hanquinet will propose a comprehensive framework to understand visitors’ attitudes towards art museums and cultural artefacts in general.

Laurie Hanquinet is a social scientist with particular interests in the sociology of culture and art, and in research methodologies. Her recent publications include:

Hanquinet, L. (2013), Visitors to modern and contemporary art museums: towards a new sociology of ‘cultural profiles’. The Sociological Review, 61: 790–813. 

Hanquinet L., Roose H. & Savage M. (2013) The Eyes of the Beholder: Aesthetic Preferences and the Remaking of Cultural Capital.’ Sociology, 48: 111-132.

Hanquinet L. (2013) ‘Mondrian as kitchen tiles? Artistic and cultural conceptions of art museum visitors in Belgium’, Cultural Trends, 22 (1), 14-29

All welcome. No need to book. Please just come along!

POSTER_ICCHS Research Seminar 30 April 2014


Seminar: Creative practice and uncomfortable heritage, 9 April

ICCHS Research Seminar,  1-2pm, Room 1.06, 18 Windsor Terrace

Speakers: Irene Brown, Toby Lloyd, Wolfgang Weileder, Fine Art Department, Newcastle University

Creative practice and uncomfortable heritage

The Schoolboy Partisan: Ugo Forno

This seminar will focus on experiences and outcomes from the recent REcall European Conflict Archaeological Landscape Reappropriation research project. Based on the principal that heritage is a dynamic process where memory and history is refashioned for contemporary purposes REcall aimed to address issues around the ‘reuse, valorisation and communication of the 20th Century European Conflict Heritage considered as Cultural Landscape.’ The project brought together interdisciplinary and international teams of artists, architects and archaeologists to develop sustainable design proposals for the reuse and reimagining of a series of World War Two sites in Italy and Norway.

REcall was a partnership project between: Newcastle University Fine Art Department; Polytechnic of Milan (Italy): Aalborg University’s (Denmark); the Norwegian University of Science and Technology; Falstad Centre (Norway); Turin’s Museum of Resistance (Italy); The Romsdal Museum (Norway); and the European Snark Space Making Network.

Visit the Recall blog for further details about the project and to view the design proposals.

Irene Brown is an artist, Fine Art Lecturer and MFA Course Leader. Her recent research has explored the relationships between artists and museums, museum history, philosophies and taxonomies. Irene’s latest project the ‘Gallery of Wonder’ is an exhibition and research facility exploring the evocation of wonder through curatorial display.

Toby Lloyd is a Newcastle-based artist and was a member of one of the interdisciplinary design teams involved in Recall.  His work uses video, photography and performance to explore the shifting relationship between self and the contemporary urban and commercial environment.

Wolfgang Weileder is an artist and Professor of Contemporary Sculpture. His current research project, ‘Jetty’ connects debates around fine art, urban design and sustainability through the creation and investigation of an architectural scale artwork for the historic Dunston Staiths, a landmark Scheduled Monument and Grade II structure on the south bank of the River Tyne in Newcastle Gateshead.

All welcome. No need to book. Please just come along!

POSTER_ICCHS Research Seminar 9 April 2014

Culture Under Threat Conference

A US Army tank outside part of the Iraq National Museum in March 2003.

A US Army tank outside part of the Iraq National Museum in March 2003. (Photo: Joanne Farchakh Bajjaly)

Peter Stone is co-organising the Call for Papers for Culture Under Threat, a joint conference organised by the American University of Rome, Blue Shield, World Archaeological Congress, and Newcastle University.

2014 marks the 60th anniversary of the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its 1st Protocol and also the 15th anniversary of its 2nd Protocol. Sadly, almost every part of the world has seen armed conflict since 1954 and cultural property has been damaged in all of these conflicts through collateral destruction, military insensitivities, and extensive looting.

The conference will be held May 15-21, 2014, at the American University of Rome. It will review what actions are currently taken to mitigate the destruction of cultural property during conflict and address what might be done in the future to enhance its protection and to restrict and counter the trade in illicit antiquities that feeds off conflict. The conference will conclude with a discussion of a draft of the World Archaeological Congress’ Accord on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

Call for Papers: Abstracts of no more than 200 words for papers should be sent to or by Monday 14 April 2014. Authors of accepted papers will be notified by Monday 21 April.

Curating Human Remains workshop

Workshop participants during a practical workshop session

Last month Myra Giesen delivered a presentation on the ethical and legislative framework surrounding the curation of human remains. The event, held appropriately at the Royal College of Surgeons, London, was organized jointly by the Human Remains Subject Specialist Network and the Museum Ethnographers Group. Contributors included leading practitioners in the field, including specialists from the Natural History Museum and the Museum of London.

More than thirty curators, conservators and archaeologists attended the London event and future workshops on the topic and a possible online version are planned.

For further details of the February workshop and for news on new event dates visit the Museum Ethnographers’ Group Blog.

Research seminar: Emotions in the history museum, 19 March

ICCHS Research Seminar,  1-2pm, Room 1.06, 18 Windsor Terrace

Visiting speaker: Sheila Watson, School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester.

Emotions in the history museum

Sheila Watson’s presentation will suggest that museum studies has lagged behind social sciences in the growth of interest in affect and emotions, to the detriment of our understanding of the ways in which visitors engage with objects, narratives and displays. Drawing on case studies Sheila will consider how emotions are culturally regulated and how research can help us develop a more subtle concept of what sorts of emotionally driven learning takes place in museum sites, and how exhibition design facilitates certain types of emotional responses from visitors. This talk will focus specifically on history museums.

Dr Sheila Watson is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester. She is a historian with particular interests in narrative and affect in museums, particularly in institutions which deal with archaeology and history. Sheila’s recent research has explored how the museum deals with military history and concepts of myth and popular memory, and how this contributes to contested national histories. Sheila was co-investigator on the recent EuNaMus European National Museums and the European Citizen project, a three year investigation into the ways in which histories are made and consumed in European national museums.

Her recent publications on emotion, nationhood and the history museum include:

Watson, S. ( 2013) ‘Emotions in the history museum ‘in A. Witcomb K. Message (eds) Museum Theory: an expanded field,Oxford, Blackwell.

Knell, S.J. , 2012., Axelsson, B Eilertsen, L. Myrivili, E.  Porciani, I. Sawyer, A. and Watson, S. Crossing Borders: Connecting European Identities in Museums and Online, Linkoping University Press, Linkoping.

Watson, S. (2012) ‘Museums and the origins of nations in Poulot, D and Bodenstein, F (eds) Grand Narratives of the Past: Traditions and Revisions in National Museums: 545-565 University of Linköping.

All welcome. No need to book. Please just come along!

POSTER_ICCHS Research Seminar 19 March 2014

Research seminar on 26 February cancelled

Unfortunately Janet Marstine’s scheduled Research Seminar this Wednesday has been cancelled due to problems with train services to and from Newcastle and Leicester. We hope to reschedule Janet’s presentation for later in the year. Please check back for updates.

Our next Research Seminar will now be on Wednesday, 19 March, when Sheila Watson, from the School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester will be speaking on emotions in the history museum.

Hope to see you then!