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Presenting Cultural Heritage

Coordinator

Prof. dr. Bram Kempers and dr. Mirjam Hoijtink

Members of the research group

F. Chiaravalloti MSc
dr. C.A.J.C. Delhaye
dr. P. Dijstelberge
C.A. Drieënhuizen
drs. D.J. Elshout
dr. R. Esner
dr. P.G.F. Eversmann
prof.dr. M. Gnade
dr. M.H.E. Hoijtink
prof.dr. B. Kempers
prof.dr. E.A. Kuitert
dr. E.L. Masson
dr. H. Ronnes
dr. M. Simons
dr. G. Vermeer
dr. G.J.M. van Wijngaarden
dr. M.L. Wilders
prof.dr. C.J. Zandvliet
External Members:
E. Elzenga
W. Hupperetz (Allard Pierson Museum)
F. Huygen

Description of the research programme of the research group

Time and again objects from the past are re-selected, re-categorized and presented in new constructions and contexts. In this process, new types of artefacts enter the domain of cultural heritage, acquiring new meanings and coming to express new identities. This research group aims to study the ways objects such as historical documents, paintings, prints, manuscripts, printed books, products of graphic design, musical instruments, theatre props, photographs, fashion, film and new media are being characterized as ‘cultural heritage’. Three aspects will be of main focus: musealisation, cultural policy, conservation and restoration. The act of musealisation is to be understood as the way material culture becomes part of corporate and public collections, is classified and displayed in companies, museums, libraries and archives and explained in continuously changing narratives. Cultural policy will here be studied in the context of the politisation of cultural heritage, characterized by processes of legislation, governance, policy and civil service at a local, national, international and supranational level. This phenomenon, of great impact for the functioning and changing identities of institutes such as museums, archives and libraries, parallels the aim to claim ever dominant visibility in the public sphere with expression of competitive architecture and design, most notably since the nineteenth century . During the last decades, corporate collections, seeking for societal support have become remarkable players in
the field of public appreciation for cultural production too. These developments have been of influence in professionalization of preservation, conservation and restoration practices. On the one hand this research group is interested in improved technological innovation and the changing device of instrumentation and skills. On the other hand it will seek to explain processes of selection, generally motivated by the awareness of threatened objects. This notion has increased since the WW II and urges scholars to find solutions for the preservation of cultural heritage in international conflicts.

Envisaged results

In close collaboration with cultural institutions, especially in Amsterdam and in close cooperation with UvA Special Collections, the Rijksmuseum, De Nieuwe Kerk, the Hermitage and others we will express a critical and diverse attitude towards processes of musealisation, preservation, restoration and politisation of cultural heritage, by the study of collections in a wider framework than a solely objectoriented manner and by assisting in making them accessible for wider audiences through scholarly publications, catalogues and lectures in the public domain.

Work plan and time schedule

Regular meetings, Exhibitions, Knowledge exchange with institutes like the Rijksdienst voor Cultureel Erfgoed and with a network of guest researchers. A first symposium will be held in September 2013.

Societal relevance

Members of the group, taking part of various Boards and Advisory Committees in Amsterdam cultural institutes, seek to find public attention for current academic topics and debates to enlarge the stage for this in narratives told in exhibitions, accompanying publications and public events.