New Seminar on 3 June: Museums Security: New Perspectives

Please join us for another in our series of research seminars:

Title: Museums Security: New Perspectives

Speaker: Suzie Thomas, University of Helsinki, Finland

Wednesday 3 June
1 – 2pm
Room 1.06, 18 Windsor Terrace
All welcome

Museums are an integral part of the cultural life of societies, with  collections that may be of not only national but international  significance. As well as intangible value, many objects may also have  considerable financial value, and pose a temptation to thieves.  Despite this, it has been noted that many museums have what can only be described as inadequate security provisions. In recent years, high profile art thefts from museums have only highlighted this situation.  Furthermore, a range of other criminal activities, such as vandalism and other anti-social behaviours can also adversely affect museums and their surroundings, which in turn impacts sense of place and visitor experience. We also know that situational precipitators (for example
graffiti or vandalism that has been left unrepaired) can act as a cue that crime is accepted in an area – the small scale offences, in fact, can directly contribute to larger scale crimes, according for example to the Broken Windows Theory. In this paper I outline the interdisciplinary research with which researchers at the University of Helsinki and Loughborough University are currently involved, which aims to shed light on the specific security challenges faced by museums, covering our research methods and the emerging findings.

Dr Suzie Thomas is University Lecturer in Museology at the University
of Helsinki, Finland. She has previously worked at the University of
Glasgow and the Council for British Archaeology, and completed her PhD
in Heritage Studies at ICCHS in 2009.

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Guest Post: Niki Black on the African Heritage Challenges Conference

Today’s post is by Niki Black, ICCHS PhD researcher. Niki’s research focuses on investigating the impact which small-scale, rural festivals may have upon the social sustainability of their host communities. More info about Niki’s research can be found here. More info about the conference can be found here.

The African Heritage Challenges Conference, Cambridge

Just back from attending the African Heritage Challenges Conference (15 – 17 May) held at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), Cambridge University. The focus of the conference was on sustainability and development in African heritage with particularly attention being drawn by speakers to the potential contradiction of pairing heritage and development. This linked to another recurring discussion point of the conference, the contestable nature of the definition of heritage. This was interesting in considering if there are differences between the perception of heritage in African countries and between these countries and the West (in other words, the authorised discourse).

In the discussion which followed it was considered that, although on the surface there may appear to be very different issues at stake, many of the underlying considerations regarding heritage are similar (ownership, power, belonging for eg). Although some disagreement occurred between delegates regarding forms of heritage discourse, the majority of speakers appeared to confer on the selection of heritage and its subsequent management as needing to be led by the custodians of the heritage. As to considerations of whether heritage could contribute to sustainability, as long as heritage is seen as a concept of something ‘living’and adaptable, then it can be a positive contributor to sustainable development.