Heritage science. Fact not fiction.

Welcome to the first post of our new blog! We’ve launched it to coincide with British Science Week (http://www.britishscienceweek.org) to promote the  role of the national heritage science forum and the work of heritage scientists.  We’ll be profiling a different heritage scientist  throughout science week, in a ‘five minutes with…’ series of posts to answer those burning questions – Who are they, heritage scientists? Where do they work? What do they do? What are they like?

To kick us off, five minutes with the NHSF’s co-chairs, Nancy Bell, Head of Collection Care at The National Archives and  May Cassar, Professor of Sustainable Heritage at University College London

What is heritage science?

The term’ heritage science’ is used to encompass all technological and scientific work that can benefit the heritage sector, whether through improved management decisions, enhanced understanding of significance and cultural values or increased public engagement.

Heritage Science tends to be interdisciplinary and some great examples of recent research projects can be found on the website of the AHRC EPSRC funded Science and Heritage programme http://www.heritagescience.ac.uk/Research_Projects.

How did NHSF come into being and what does it do?

The National Heritage Science Forum was set up in 2013 to address the recommendations of the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee Inquiry on Science and Heritage and to implement the objectives of the National Heritage Science Strategy. 

The Forum provides a platform to support the policy, research and professional needs of institutions engaged in heritage science. It brings together many disciplines under the wide-ranging, interdisciplinary heritage science umbrella. Through working together, Forum members address the research and practice needs of institutions interested in or engaged with heritage science. http://heritagescienceforum.org.uk/about.php

What kind of organisations participate in NHSF?

The Forum currently has 17 members which represent leading UK organisations active in the field of heritage science. A strength of NHSF is that it brings together the producers and users of heritage science research to maximise the impact of that research, to share resources, knowledge and skills, and to speak as one voice about heritage science. The 17 members include major heritage organisations and academic institutions. A full list is available on the NHSF website, http://heritagescienceforum.org.uk/member-institutions.php where you’ll also find information about joining NHSF http://heritagescienceforum.org.uk/join-us.php.

Can individuals and people who don’t work at heritage organisations get involved?

NHSF is keen to promote understanding of, and involvement in, heritage science. Indeed one of its priorities for 2015 is to identify ways of working with communities, through partnerships with other organisations, to turn its ambition of citizen heritage scientists into a reality.

Whilst only organisations can be members, there are other ways for individuals to get involved with NHSF, for example by following us on Twitter or Facebook.

What’s the most important message you want to convey about heritage science?

Heritage science is critical to our understanding of good curatorial and conservation practice and to improving the understanding and preservation of our shared heritage. Whether policy maker, research institution, user of heritage science research or an individual who cares about the long-term future of heritage we have an opportunity now to work together to create an environment in which creative ideas and innovative techniques can be applied to the past for the benefit of its future.