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What is Europe doing ?

Heritage must be managed

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Conservation methods, innovative tools to restore objects, organisation of space, treatment of materials … All the projects mentioned in the previous pages are tools of interest to managers, curators, librarians and political and cultural authorities responsible for one or other aspect of cultural heritage, either closely or at a distance, as part of their activities.
Other European projects are specifically analysing management problems in order to come up with real decision-making aids of interest to the various players, such as when they ask questions about the (sometimes incalculable) value of the item of heritage which they are in charge of, the kinds of damage which are threatening it, the way in which to prevent such damage, the cost of preserving and, in the longer term, of restoring such items of heritage.

Heritage must be managed

Graphic elementThe facts

Not so much facts as questions. How can we simultaneously protect and share a common heritage? How can we present historical buildings, works of art, and cultural objects to those wanting to see them, without frustrating visitors or damaging the places visited? To what extent can those who have to take care of these cultural testimonies stretch their often too restricted budgets by means of concerts, hiring out rooms, selling related products, lifting restrictions on the number of visitors, etc., without jeopardising the places and the collections which they are responsible for protecting? How is one to choose the best methods of preservation, presentation and restoration? What needs to be done when an archaeological site is discovered when a tunnel or a car park is being built in an urban centre? European research is contributing answers to all these questions with which the managers of heritage and local authorities are confronted with increasing regularity.

Heritage must be managed

Peace in Altamira
The Altamira cave (Spain) is one of the most precious examples of Palaeolithic art and particularly sensitive to pollution from human visitors. Meticulous counting of visitors and a study of their impact in relation to daily climatic conditions now makes it possible to regulate this damage. This preventive approach is the outcome of a project led by European geologists, geochemists and microbiologists who, with those responsible for managing the sites, studied four prehistoric sites in Spain and in Italy. They analysed the impact of visitors, lighting conditions (which facilitate the proliferation of micro-organisms), the effects of temperature and atmospheric pressure. What is more, this project led to the discovery of a new bacterium which will be used to prepare an antibiotic with the distinguished name of Altamirina.

The price to be paid for indifference
The Reach project, which involves universities, heritage managers and British, Swedish, Norwegian, Czech and Portuguese companies, is studying six sites and as many case studies, including a historic building, the Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon, and an urban complex, the centre of Prague. On the basis of their findings, a general software management tool will be developed incorporating all the costs/benefits aspects and which can be used to devise an optimal "heritage strategy" with all the different examples. Because, at the end of the day, the failure to manage carries a heavy price tag.

 
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