Chair on Heritage Futures

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



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.


A Star Trek interpretation of the Future


A guest blog by Jesper de Raad:

Ever since I attended the Heritage Futures workshop ‘Thinking and Planning the Future in Heritage Management’ in Amsterdam in 2019 I regularly see examples of interesting ways on how we (currently) perceive the future.

A recent example is a ten second frame in Star Trek – Discovery. In the episode Such Sweet Sorrow: Part 2 we can spot the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, a very recognisable piece of our collective cultural heritage. In this particular picture, we can see how the present looks at the future. The Golden Gate Bridge, as cultural heritage, is still there but there is no need for automobiles as people can fly around in space ships. People are still dependable on solar energy though, which is produced by the panels on the bridge as depicted in this scene.

This is a way of thinking about the future which at the same time is very tied and bound to the present. We think with our current knowledge and mindset. We are only able to perceive the future through the present!

Jesper de Raad, contact: J.H.M.deRaad@hotmail.com