Cultural studies, Museum studies

Course date

1 July - 30 July, 1997
Application deadline
15 February, 1997
Course Director(s): 

József Laszlovszky

Cultural Heritage Studies Program/Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary / Vienna, Austria
Course Faculty: 

Mick Aston

University of Bristol, United Kingdom

Robert Bevley

Royal Commission of Historical Monuments, London, United Kingdom

Karl Brunner

Medieval History, Vienna University, Austria

Gunther Dembski

Museum Security Adviser, Vienna, Austria

Tomas Durdik

Archaeological Institute, Prague, Czech Republic

Martin Gojda

Archaeological Institute, Prague, Czech Republic

Jeanne Hagenboom

International Council of Museums - ICOM, Documentation Committee, Paris, France

Gerhard Jaritz

Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Pal Lovei

National Board of Historical Monuments, Budapest, Hungary

Edit Madas

MTA-OSzK Res Libraria Hungariae - Fragmenta Codicum, Budapest, Hungary

Christoph Makat

Institute of Historical Monuments, Pulheim, Germany

Predrag Matejic

Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, United States of America

Christopher Newbury

Museum Training Institution, Bradford, United Kingdom

Corina Popa

Academy of Fine Arts, Bucharest, Romania

Odon Raday

Ministry of Environmental Protection, Budapest, Hungary

Beatrix Romhanyi

Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest, Hungary

Marco Tonon

International Council of Museums - ICOM, Audiovisual and New Technologies Committee, Paris, France

Zsuzsanna Urbach

Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, Hungary

Nina Vutova

National Library, Sofia, Bulgaria

Katalin Wollak

Hungarian National Museum, Budapest, Hungary

The cultural heritage of Europe faces a continuous and ever growing danger. In spite of a number of national and international organisations as well as projects and conferences dedicated to the preservation and maintenance of the monuments from the past, it seems that a more intensive information exchange is still necessary in order to assure a wider awareness of the problem. A truly international consensus and cooperation at all levels is needed in order to effectively promote the idea of the cultural heritage as one of the most precious and at the same time very precarious treasures of humanity. The summer university we propose is intended to contribute to the solution of this problem by educating young professionals who in course of their work are directly involved in the process of preserving and maintaining the cultural heritage (archivists, librarians, museum staff, conservators of monuments etc.).

We shall focus foremost on presenting problems confronted by East-Central European countries. The cultural treasures of this region were heavily demolished already in the past due to wars, negligence and other factors. The situation still worsened in the last decades because of the centrally controlled cultural policy of the communist governments. Unfortunately, the recent political changes and the economic transformation of these countries did not stop the process of destruction. Indeed, the war in Yugoslavia, Croatia and Bosnia produced the most significant, deliberate demolition of cultural monuments. In discussing these problems our Department would rely upon a cooperation with the South East European Studies program, which has already been discussed with professors Ivo Banac and Neven Budak.

The cultural heritage, however, is also exposed to various dangers during periods of peace. Climatic and environmental factors can be equally harmful. Pollution and the disruption of the biological equilibrium due to the growth of industry affect the condition of the monuments no less than natural disasters and changes in the biosphere. Here we should like to invite the Environmental Studies Department to contribute to the presentation of these aspects.

Many more phenomena determine the fate of our cultural heritage. Illegal trade of archeological finds and pieces of art, thefts of museum and church collections are seriously damaging its integrity. Very often simply the shortage of financial resources, lack of information and negligence causes further destruction. Therefore, adequate management of the cultural heritage is one of the crucial issues in these transforming countries.

To sum up, the aim of the summer university we are proposing is to show the full scale of dangers menacing the integrity of the cultural heritage in the region, and to provide up-to-date methods, techniques and overall policy of their preservation and maintenance, for the participants in the related fields. The courses are intended to call the attention of the scholars and institutions to these problems. We would make all efforts to involve most interested institutions into the row of presentations, and invite them to present here their documentation and relevant projects, share and exchange ideas with other similar organisations. In addition to regular lectures, seminars and common debates for the participants, we are planning to organize a teleconference that would enable us to bring the issue into focus for a wider international audience. As a conclusion of the project we should like to present the results of the common discussions in an exhibition displaying databases, documentations, multimedia programs and other tools that are essential in the endeavours to save the cultural heritage of the region. We hope that eventually a new alliance and network could come out of these workshops with perhaps a large common database of joint documentation.