Author Archive

Museum directors’ view on museum-entrepreneurship

Friday, June 4th, 2021

Anders Högberg published (with Marina Jogmark) a study in which they explore how Swedish museum directors think about museum-entrepreneurship.


You can find the article, in Swedish with an English abstract, in the journal Nordic Museology]


Of special interest for the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures is the section on various forms of collaboration between researchers and museums. Among others, Högberg and Jogmark suggest that collaboration can develop by creating new forms for co-operation.

Chernobyl – becoming a World Heritage

Thursday, April 29th, 2021
Cornelius Holtorf comments in Swedish Radio. Chernobyl – becoming a World Heritage (after 26 minutes)

Swedish TV news – Warning the people of the future about nuclear waste

Friday, February 5th, 2021

Swedish TV news programme last night broadcast a reportage about long-term memory preservation in relation to nuclear waste repositories . They focused mainly on future archaeology, and the piece featured interviews with Erik Setzman (SKB, the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company) and Cornelius Holtorf, professor of Archaeology at Linnaeus University and holder of the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures.

Although it is in Swedish, you may still be able to catch the gist of it from the pictures including the historic video clips they found and the simulations (!).

The programme is available at 


nuclear warning sign of the International Atomic Energy Agency

Photo: This nuclear warning sign of the International Atomic Energy Agency may be crystal clear to people like us. But the various symbols on a red background inside a triangular sign may not unambiguously communicate to distant future generations why this particular legacy of our time should be approached with caution.

Forskning, kunskap och museer i museilagens Sverige

Monday, January 18th, 2021

I The Journal Nordic Museology 2020:2 publicerade Anders Högberg tillsammans med Klas Grinell artikeln: Perspektiv: Lagstadgad kunskap. Om svensk museipolitik och forskning.

Vad betyder museilagens betoning av kunskapsuppbyggnad för museers forskning? Hur ser relationerna mellan forskning, kunskap och museer ut i museilagens Sverige? Artikeln redogör också för i vilket sammanhang museilagen tillkom.

The Journal Nordic Museology 2020:2

Prof Anders Högberg UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures

Professor Anders Högberg UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures

Målarboken – Arkeologi idag finns nu i svensk version

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

Målarboken Archeology Today som gavs ut förra året finns nu även i en svensk version. Den visar hur arkeologer arbetar idag med nya tillämpningar. Åsikter och idéer som uttrycks i denna målarbok är författarnas egna. De delas inte nödvändigtvis av UNESCO. Författare: Cornelius Holtorf (text) and Daniel Lindskog (illustrationer). Tack till Riksbanken Jubileumsfond för stöd.

För nedladdning

Den engelska versionen kan beställas som print eller laddas ner{B75F45BA-A140-442F-ADCB-6568EAB2CC8C}

Anders Högberg fortsätter i Statens historiska museers insynsråd

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

Insynsrådets uppgift är att utöva insyn i verksamheten och ge myndighetschefen råd.

– Jag har arbetat i insynsrådet sedan 2015. Det är ett både utmanande och tillfredställande arbete. Statens historiska museer har vuxit kraftigt sedan 2015. Nya museer och verksamheter har införlivats i myndigheten vilket medfört stora omorganisationer. Det är förändringar som krävt engagemang från insynsrådet. Det är verkligen givande att omsätta forskning och samverkanskompetens som kommer ur mitt universitetsarbete till aktiva råd och diskussioner i myndighetens arbete, säger Anders Högberg som nu får fortsatt förtroende till 2023.

Prof Anders Högberg UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures

Prof Anders Högberg UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures

Future making aspects of heritage

Thursday, December 10th, 2020

Dr Sarah May, Senior Lecturer in Public History and Heritage at Swansea University, giving evidence to the Welsh government this morning – there will also be a transcript soon. Lots of interesting things came up and interesting that everyone accepted that we serve the present first and let the future make its own decisions, and that similarly we don’t need to be bound by the views of the past.

Sarah May UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures

Dr Sarah May UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures

Millennium trees and the lockdown

Tuesday, December 8th, 2020

A beautiful ‘heritage futures’ story by Sarah May.

Small commerations, heritage, pasts and futures intermingled.

Millennium trees and the lockdown

Tools for strategising for memory preservation over centuries and millennia – A new publication in the UNESCO SCEaR Newsletter

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

UNESCO Memory of the World Programme. Sub-Committee on Education and Research  SCEaR Newsletter 2020/1 (June).

Preserving Memory and Information on Heritage and on Unwanted Legacies – New Tools for Identifying Sustainable Strategies Prepare and Support Decision Making by Future Generations by Claudio Pescatore and Jonas Palm


“Future” is a notion that is not systematically developed in the heritage professions. Current management practice relies on the assumption that the necessary means will be made available and that the information will be as intelligible to people in the future as it was to those who left it originally or to those who re-worked it in the intervening time. For a variety of causes – natural and/or human – archives may disappear or be insufficient, records enabling the memory of why certain decisions were taken may be lost, the information still existing may not be intelligible, and funds may no longer be available for performing whatever action may be needed.  We cannot prevent those changes from happening, we can, however, seek to develop and implement strategies that maximize future societies’ chances to make their own decisions based on exploitable information especially in connection with legacies that we leave behind and that they will own for centuries and millennia to come. In the past 10 years progress has been accomplished in understanding how a durable, long-term preservation of Records, Knowledge and Memory (RK&M) strategy could be built. Guiding principles and practical action items have been also formulated in the context of sustainable development. This paper develops a set of tools that professionals can apply and further develop themselves to create ad-hoc catalogues of RK&M mechanisms and to identify how they could be combined best with one another in order to maximize the chances that the needed information can be passed on durably. The methodology that is described and the tools that are presented could help present-day professionals think and deal with the “future” in a more systematic, assured and reliable way.


Incorporating change – heritage and Covid-19

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

The world is in shock. Lives and economies are being shattered by an invisible enemy that has been brewing in bats for hundreds of thousands of years. From bats it passed on to another mammal – likely, the pangolin – and then, through wet markets or hunting or other, to Man.

Half of humankind is stuck at home.  Millions are still being infected; hospitals are overwhelmed. The dead are in the hundreds of thousands; hundreds of thousands more have died or are presently dying from lack of care of other health conditions. Morgues are beyond being full; proper funeral ceremonies cannot be held; spouses and friends are not allowed to visit their sick or give them the final farewell. Although pleas had been heard towards preparing for a major pandemic (See F. Bruni’s article on Laurie Garrett in NYT, 2 May 2020; Watch Bill Gates here:, the world has been taken as by surprise.

Today’s horror should not be forgotten. Besides passing on to future generations the tales of “how it really was”, we should also want to create the premises for avoiding or mitigating the occurrence of future horrors. Heritage is one of the means, but of what kind should it be?

Memorials will be erected, no doubt, especially in the most affected localities. Ideally any memorial should not only be a form of commemoration but also a societal tool to keep the attention alive.   Can we achieve this? And for how-long should memorials stay effective?  In order to keep the attention alive, memorials should stay effective on the order of 100 years, which is the periodicity of major world pandemics, with reminders every 25 years in-between.( see “Pandemics that changed history”, by Editors at )

The latest major pandemics was the Spanish flu of around 1918, one hundred years after the first cholera pandemics of 1817. Recent reminders were HIV/Aids, Ebola and SARS.  This timing is remindful of that of tsunamis in Japan. On average, Japan is hit by a tsunami every three years; tsunamis causing fatalities take place every 23 years; and the deadliest tsunamis occur every 60 years.

The Japanese have been memorializing their tsunamis – at least the deadliest ones – in the form of tsunami warning and/or commemoration stones. One example is the picture, hereafter, of  a tsunami stone in Aneyoshi, Japan, which warns residents not to build homes below it. (Taken from M. Fackler’s article, NYT April 20, 2011)   317 stone markers were erected since the 1896 and 1933 tsunamis, of which 125 (40%) disappeared with the devastation of the 2011 tsunami. Just as happened in the past, after important tsunamis, new stone markers were erected commemorating the latest (2011) tsunami. 500 such new markers pass on messages from this recent event to future generations. The initiative of creating and installing these modern stones was led by the Japanese guild of stone masons and not by the authorities, which highlights, on the one side, the potential role of civil society organizations in developing and maintaining markers and, on the other side, raises the question of the role, and the real interest, of the authorities in this type of warning and commemoration. (These data as well as others on Japan mentioned in the present blog are available from the 2014 study “Markers – Reflections on Intergenerational Warnings in the Form of Japanese Tsunami Stones”, accessible at ).


Tsunami stones


By and large the warnings the past tsunamis were neglected and did not help save lives when the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in 2011. Neglecting the warnings was rather the rule in post-1945 Japan, when the population started building their homes closer to shore, in areas marked by the tsunami stones as being at risk. Coastal towns grew rapidly against the backdrop of economic prosperity, and it appeared more advantageous for fishermen to live close to their boats. More villages were built closer to the shore after sea walls were erected in the 1960s. Another account suggests that people simply were too “busy” with their lives and jobs to pay attention to the stone markers.  A professor in disaster planning from Tōhoku University argued that it takes “three generations for people to forget”.

The neglected warnings of the Japanese tsunami stones illustrate that passive markers or monuments and memorials are not effective, in- and by-themselves, for maintaining the necessary awareness of past events and the necessary levels of protective behavior against recurring but still unpredictable events of variable devastating force. Memorialization should be not of the passive type. We should think heritage differently. In her book, Uses of Heritage (Routledge, 2006), Laurajanes Smith challenges traditional Western definitions of heritage that focus on material and monumental forms of ‘old’, or aesthetically pleasing, tangible heritage, which are all too often used to promote an unchallenging, consensual view of both the past and the present.

The challenge is today to create heritage memorials of various forms that do not expect future generations to take care of them as a matter of fact or even, as in the case of passive markers, not at all. They should be part of a practice or way of living that allows creating new meaning as society evolves.  Now is the time to think of constructing heritage that would naturally allow for adaptation and reinterpretation while supporting the original goal of not forgetting and, even, of fostering continued and additional knowledge.


Claudio Pescatore, member of the Chair