Part of The Glasgow Story: Making Heritage matter

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by Jennifer Hilder (PhD Intern)

At Industry Day, Dr Jeremy Huggett, the theme lead, admitted that he had struggled to encapsulate Heritage in a three-minute talk. Heritage is another broad term and although we think we know what it means when we talk about our own heritage, or the charity English Heritage, it can be hard to pin down in other contexts. For Jeremy, though, heritage involves understanding, caring for, valuing and enjoying the culture around us and in the past.

Heritage can mean uncovering that past, as the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology does in its work on battlefields with Historic Scotland, or the Historic Govan project, which set out to map Govan’s physical cultural heritage assets for the first time. The renovation of the old Annandale distillery was an opportunity for historians and archaeologists to find out about the buildings, the area, and the brand itself. With access to the William Collins Archive, the college also has a unique opportunity to trace the development of the HarperCollins publishing house.

Once this information has been uncovered, it is just as important to make it publicly available, as with the Mobilising Mapping project (part of the larger Mapping Sculpture project) that contains over 50,000 records related to sculptural practices between 1851-1951 on a single database that can be accessed through mobile phones and integrated in social media. The College of Arts also works on public exhibitions like ‘Georgian Glasgow’, which will appear in the Kelvingrove Museum in 2014, and other local projects such as guided walks and talks to history societies about research into place names around Kinross-shire, Clackmannanshire and Menteith.

Sometimes heritage is also about the present and future. At the moment, several projects are looking into curatorial and conservation practices, looking into the costs of curation, as well as trying to provide guidelines and training for digital curation. One particularly interesting project surveyed residents of the East Kilbride & District Housing Association to find out how past building decisions and practices impacted on their daily lives today.

For the future, it is imperative, of course, that precious objects, ideas, texts, images, even webpages, should be conserved. In one project, students from the college are working with the British Museum to look at how textile fragments from Sudan in the 7-9th centuries CE should be treated. Our landscape, too, needs to be preserved, and the college provides a Masters programme that engages with the landscape’s past to maximise social, economic, and environmental benefits in the future.

One project sums all this up, for me, and that is TheGlasgowStory. Using words from some of Scotland’s best writers and pictures from the university’s own collection, TheGlasgowStory sets out the Glasgow of the past, from the perspective of the present, and gifts it to the reader of the future – inherent, inherited, heritage.

Post Author: Nicole Cassie

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