Blog

Heritage in the public space

On 14 March 2014, I was present at a presentation of the Dutch report on heritage called ‘Karakterschetsen; Nationale Onderzoeksagenda Erfgoed en Ruimte’ that describes the current state of Dutch heritage in the public space. How is our heritage preserved, researched and made accessible? And what are the trends here?

One of the conclusions that can be made is that many people in local communities are more involved nowadays in the preservation of our heritage. Like at Staatsbosbeheer (National Trust), where volunteers are now working in nature reserves. Citizens help their local governments in trying to save local monuments (by finding new uses for them), or work as a volunteer in a museum to register the collection. This support is greatly appreciated, but can be difficult to coordinate when all those people have their own ideas about how to perform these tasks the best.

To conclude this afternoon meeting, the common opinion was that the report does not discuss the subject of balancing the expertise present at the government or heritage organisations with the ambitious (and caring!) plans of citizens yet. It's a good cause, finding new ways in which citizens can realize their own ideas about heritage and monuments. But mostly this is not (only) originating from idealism or a renewed insight how social change can be realized anno 2014. It stems from pragmatism, the financial crises and the lack of funds. The government institutions no longer have the means to maintain, study and utilize 'their' heritage in public spaces, so they have to let citizens take this role. 

And this is a missed opportunity, I think: people care about their living environment and are willing to act. They are concerned about the public spaces in their neigbourhoods and come with creative ideas. The moment that the public is really involved, a large range of possibilities opens up, of which examples can be found in numerous domains. There will emerge (more) creative projects, cooperations and new uses that were previously though impossible. Even stronger: that actually were not possible before. To offer more space to these kind of initiatives seems a fine task setting for heritage institutions in the 21st century to me.

Recent blog posts

- Thursday 05 October 2017

The 'Metaal Kathedraal': a former church and metal factory, but now a cultural and ecological breeding ground at the edge of Utrecht. Xiamyra went to visit the place.

- Tuesday 03 October 2017

In a world where science is most often practiced in isolated labs, gaining access to the primary tools is of great importance to many independent researchers.

- Monday 02 October 2017

MAD summerschool, sounds like a crazy summerschool but it actually stands for ‘Man and Design’ i.e. a design summerschool. Xiamyra participated.

- Friday 29 September 2017

Paulien Melis and Janine Huizenga were at the camp Entre-Nous to speak about Make Health on behalf of the Creative Care Lab.

- Thursday 28 September 2017

In this blog series ‘DO worry, be happy!’, we talk to experts in the field of technology, innovation and ethics about new developments and why sometimes we need to worry a little more.