SEAHA Conference 2018 – a review

In today’s guest post, SEAHA students Surbhi Goyal and Luz Frias Hernandez review their experience of the SEAHA 2018 Conference, which was held on 4-6th June at UCL.

The SEAHA Conference 2018 was a very interesting and enlightening experience to gain a perspective of different areas related to heritage science and the progress in this field of study.

Full of excitement, the first day started with an overwhelming exposure to the areas of archaeological research and cultural heritage in the first session of the series. The subject of new technologies that monitor timber frame buildings with infill panels was discussed, succeeded by a lecture on preventive conservation and 3D photogrammetry in monitoring of deformation.

The broad spectrum of understanding BIM in the prevention of historic environment was the area of focus in the second session of the conference. The lectures in this session mainly lay emphasis on the understanding the importance of 3D laser scanning of architectural ruins and the interdisciplinary study of invisible polychromies of the Basel Cathedral.

The third session of the talk was a discussion on the development of infrastructure research and presented extended accounts on the assessment of patinas and protective coatings for metals by a gel electrochemical cell as well the development of mobile nuclear magnetic resonance as a tool for the assessment of cultural heritage research. The concluding session of the conference was an insight to the topic of evidence supported policy-making. The presentation on the emission from PU insulation products followed by the engagement of industries to characterize volatile emissions from museum display cases were very in depth insights to this particular topic.

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On the second day of the conference, the first talk was an exciting insight of the use of imaging analysis for conservation practices carried out at the National History Museum. Up next, the theme of materials was explored, starting with the innovative talk about the creation of gecko-inspired adhesives for heritage conservation followed by a talk about the use of 3D printing for reintegrating parts of heritage assemblies as well as a fascinating talk showing a project about violin varnishes. After a short break, we enjoyed a presentation about the use of parchment for biological archives through time. Subsequently, the sessions related to bio-chemo archaeology were a great way to learn about the analysis of DNA applied to heritage, as well as the use of industrial x-ray techniques for conservation. The discourse of data was exposed through some projects starting with the big panorama of big data collection and how it is being used in preservation. The importance of social engagement and awareness towards science and conservation projects was emphasised while knowing about the Zoouniverse project, talk that created an introduction to the following presentations about crowd sourcing and participatory research in heritage sites and museums.

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Closing an outstanding day, an inspiring bit of the programme was the guided tour to the British Museum, where attendants were able to explore the part of the building where the science happens – while going into the conservation and imagenology labs, getting to know some processes that are performed to conserve those items that we can just see displayed in the museum exhibitions – it was without a doubt a one of a kind experience.

This event can really be enjoyed by everyone, as it has the potential of reaching all sorts of audiences by presenting amazing case studies and projects that everyone have seen or heard about. Even if you do not know much—or anything—about science but have a genuinely interest in culture and heritage, the SEAHA conference is the best place to explore these issues more in-depth but in a clear way in order to know the processes that heritage assemblies pass through to continue being appreciated by the public and preserved for future generations.

Overall, the SEAHA Conference 2018 was an encouraging opportunity to learn about the latest technologies that are being used in heritage conservation, all happening in a delightful ambience that fostered interaction between many professionals and students discussing these topics and sharing their experiences of working in the heritage science sector and their performance in a variety of fascinating projects – all that accompanied by a cup of tea, coffee and even ice cream, it truly could not be better!

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