Cultural heritage has been defined as the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a community that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations, including tangible culture (buildings, monuments, landscapes, books, works of art, artifacts and even biodiversity) and intangible culture (folklore, traditions, language, and knowledge).

For many today, this definition raises more questions than it answers.

Who decides what gets preserved? How should these decisions be made? Who funds heritage preservation, and why? Who is the audience for these programs and projects?

How can cultural heritage projects and programs convey multiple points of view, communicating the diversity – and even the antinomies – of history and culture?

How can our cultural institutions – which tend to be geared toward the preservation of tangible heritage – support the preservation of intangible heritage? Is this even possible? What would such projects look like?

Diving deeper…why do we feel that preserving elements of the past is a valuable endeavor at all? Does this indulge what is in fact an insatiable sense of loss that is part of the human condition (and which we graft onto things like buildings, landscapes and cultural traditions)? How do we measure success when we lose a bit of our cultural heritage every single day?

Come participate in a one-day unconference at Brown University on Saturday, May 12, 2018 to discuss and debate these questions, to contribute your ideas about how best to preserve and vivify our cultural heritage, and even to design and prototype experimental heritage programs, projects and interventions that reach new audiences and create fresh connections. You provide the ideas and collaborative energy; we provide the coffee & bagels, the venue, the Twitter hashtag and some light organizational support.

Questions? Email Marisa Brown: marisa_brown@brown.edu