Review of ‘Ecomuseums: a Sense of Place’ by Peter Davis

One of our PhD researchers came across this review of Peter Davis’ book Ecomuseums: A Sense of Place on the Museums Association of Saskatchewan’s blog this week. Click on the image to read the review.

MAS Blog

The review can also be accessed by visiting this address:


‘Making Sense of Place’ sells out! Paperback next?

Making Sense of PlaceThe International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies is the focus for the book series ‘Heritage Matters’, published by Boydell and Brewer. It is a series of edited and single-authored volumes which addresses the whole range of issues that confront the cultural heritage sector as we face the global challenges of the twenty-first century. Full details of the series can be found hereMaking Sense of Place: multidisciplinary perspectives was published in April 2012 in hardback as Number 7 in the Heritage Matters Series and has now sold out, both in Europe and the USA. The book was edited by Ian Convery (Cumbria University) and two members of staff at ICCHS, Gerard Corsane and Peter Davis.

Making Sense of Place explores the term “sense of place”, a term used to understand the complex processes through which individuals and groups define themselves and their relationship to their natural and cultural environments. The term has, over the last twenty years or so, been increasingly defined, theorized and used across diverse disciplines in different ways. Sense of place mediates our relationship with the world and with each other; it provides a profoundly important foundation for individual and community identity. It can be an intimate, deeply personal experience yet also something which we share with others. It is at once recognizable but never constant; rather it is embodied in the flux between familiarity and difference. Research in this area requires culturally and geographically nuanced analyses, approaches that are sensitive to difference and specificity, event and locale. The essays in the book are drawn from a variety of disciplines (including but not limited to sociology, history, geography, outdoor education, museum and heritage studies, health, and English literature), and offer an international perspective on the relationship between people and place, via five interlinked sections (Histories, Landscapes and Identities; Rural Sense of Place; Urban Sense of Place; Cultural Landscapes; Conservation, Biodiversity and Tourism).

For full details of the series, please visit

Museums, National Identity and Cultural Policy in Scotland

Doctoral Researcher Katherine Lloyd was invited to discuss her research on the role that heritage plays in young people’s narratives of belonging and exclusion in Scotland at the conference ‘Imagining Scotland through Cultural Policy’ at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.

‘One Nation, Five Million Voices’ display in Scotland: A Changing Nation, National Museum of Scotland. Image taken by Katherine Lloyd

The conference was a timely reflection on the development of cultural policy in Scotland since Devolution and posed important questions regarding the impact of the forthcoming Independence Referendum in September 2014. Papers from academics, policy makers and practitioners considered the impact of cultural policy on the Creative Industries and Scotland’s cultural organisations, with perspectives from broadcasting, theatre, museums, community festivals and issues of cultural participation. Case studies from Wales also provided useful comparative insights into the relationship between cultural policy and questions of national identity in the wider UK context.

Reflecting on the aims of the new National Strategy for Scotland’s Museums and Galleries, Katherine’s paper challenged the frequent assumptions made in cultural policy regarding the impact museums may have in fostering an ‘inclusive’ sense of national identity. In doing so, she stressed the need to differentiate between cultural policy as advocacy verses policy based on empirical evidence and called for further research on visitor responses to ‘inclusive’ representations of identity.

Further information about the conference including selected papers can be found here:

More information about Katherine’s research is available at:

Heritage and Science: Working Together in the CARE of Rock Art

ICCHS has begun an exciting new project focussing on developing materials and research that will aid in the protection of delicate rock art in Northumberland and beyond.

Open air rock art is an iconic part of the UK’s prehistoric heritage, with 3500 panels still in existence that date from between 6000 and 3800 years ago. It is a common misconception that as this work has existing for so long it does not require conservation approaches.

Scientific appraisal of rock art in Northumberland has highlighted that due to factors such as climate change and local environmental conditions rock art has deteriorated at a faster rate in the last 50 years than in any of the preceding 6000. Further research will be undertaken through this project in order to add to this scientific understanding.

It is vital that a joint approach between heritage and science be undertaken in order to ensure rock art is not lost. CARE aims to co-produce a user-friendly tool kit for the use of specialists and non specialists alike to gather information essential for the long term preservation of open air rock art. This will be achieved through disseminating the results through publications and as well as creating a “how to guide” for individuals who have panel care responsibilities. This work will be a co-production with these stakeholders through utilising focus groups and pilot studies.

This project is collaboration between ICCHS and the School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences from Newcastle University and the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology at Queen’s University Belfast. The project will be managed by Myra Giesen, with Peter Lewis joining her as a Research Assistant. Peter graduated from ICCHS in 2009 with an MA in Heritage Management and has since worked as a Project Manager on a variety of community based projects.

ICCHS Research Student wins award to put ‘Research to Public’

The Afterlife of Heritage, Research to Public

Preparing the Exhibition at the Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering

Preparing the Exhibition at the Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering

Niki Black, a PhD researcher in ICCHS, has been awarded a grant within the Research to Public strand of the Afterlife of Heritage Project, funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council. The project, designed to cross various disciplines within the arts, humanities and social sciences, is being led by the Institute for Cultural Practices at The University of Manchester and the School of Art & Design at The University of Salford in collaboration with artsmethods@manchester.

The impetus for the project is to ‘identify, understand and translate the benefits of research into ‘real-life’ contexts within the heritage and cultural sectors’. Niki’s proposal was to put together an interactive exhibition and activity explaining and demonstrating her research whilst simultaneously working to gather data from visitors towards her thesis.

“Having a professional arts and interpretation background before embarking on my PhD, I was already convinced that I wanted to share and ‘display’ my research with the non-academic public in a colourful and interactive way, to take it beyond the academic journal. Participating in this programme gave me the confidence to believe that what I wanted to do wasn’t just an overly ambitious or inappropriate idea and that I would be taken seriously!”

A condition of the project was that researchers worked in collaboration with partners within the heritage/cultural sector. The focus of Niki’s research examines the social impact of small-scale cultural festivals upon their host communities and Niki will be working with event organisers in Northumberland to engage the public in her research. The first event, which took place at the beginning of April, was the Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering with subsequent events taking place during the summer.

For further information on the Afterlife of Heritage Project visit

Research Seminar- Dr. Sarah Elliot, 22 May 2013

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

1 – 2pm

Location: 18 Windsor Terrace, Chester Room
Speaker: Sarah Elliot, independent scholar

Dr. Sarah Elliott is an independent scholar with research interests in ecomuseology and the theories of new museology, recently positioning both within Turkish Area Studies. The emergence and significance of postmodern approaches in contemporary Turkish museology is the focus of current British Academy funded work, and previous PhD research at Newcastle University examined the impact of large dams on the cultural heritage of southeast Turkey, attempting to address the issues through an ecomuseum-centred methodology. Hasankeyf, a sui generis medieval town threatened by the Ilisu Dam, was the case study for the latter.

In this session of our Research Seminar series, Sarah will discuss the emergence and significance of postmodern or ‘new museology’ in Turkey’s museums.

Writing in the 2004 catalogue for the inaugural exhibition of Istanbul Modern, the Museum’s Senior Curator remarked that in other loci internationally the idea of the museum is changing and advancing, but lamented its developmental stasis in Turkey. Recently, however, a small but muscular academic community has been manoeuvring for change, and rapidly accelerated private museum establishment has enabled the spread of more responsive museological ideas. Using data collected from research populations of state and private museum professionals in Istanbul, this seminar will explore how the museum is imagined in Turkey, how deeply ‘traditional’ values, relations and practices are embedded and determine any re-examination of purpose.

Research on ecomuseology to place Polish ecomuseums into an international perspective

Today’s post is by Dorota Kawęcka, who is visiting ICCHS.


Dorota Kawęcka – on a boat trip during the ‘Ecomuseums 2012: 1st International Conference on Ecomuseums, Community Museums and Living Communities’ held in Seixal, Portugal in September 2012

I’m a researcher based at Jagiellonian University (Krakow, Poland) and for the next ten days I’ll be at ICCHS to conduct my research on ecomuseums, under the supervision of Peter Davis and Gerard Corsane who are known internationally in the network of academics and practitioners interested in ecomuseology. My background is in Performance Studies and I’m currently finishing my MA in Museology at the Reinwardt Academy in Amsterdam. In 2012 I was awarded a “Diamond Grant” from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education in Poland to carry out this research project on the development of Polish ecomuseums. This type of heritage work still remains fairly unknown in my country and it will be the first study ever done on the subject.

I’m also interested in how new technologies can help heritage institutions to become more participatory and I actively campaign for open access to knowledge.

Together with my colleague Aleksandra Janus I write a blog to promote new ideas in museology (in Polish only). You can find me on Twitter and LinkedIn.