University of Gothenburg
Renovation of the Ferris wheel at Liseberg in Gothenburg. A quarter of the circle is missing.
Renovation of the Ferris wheel at Liseberg in Gothenburg.
Photo: Jenny Högström Berntson

Heritage and Science

During the last 5-10 years we have witnessed a science turn within humanities and social sciences: the breakthrough of ancient DNA, the increasing importance of Big Data, e.g. digital humanities, as well as other new science based analytical methodologies, such as network analysis. Taken together it will likely have a profound effect upon future directions of research, and therefore should also be the subject of critical analysis.

Science in humanities and historical studies

Strand leader: Kristian Kristiansen
This strand focus on research on heritage, dna and archaeology. It is a collaboration with Mats Ahlgren from Swedish Society for personal DNA genealogies. 

Vienna Genes talk by Kristian Kristiansen

"Genes, diseases, and migrations: what relationship? Indo-European expansions reconsidered"

In this talk I attempt to define and interpret the driving forces behind the 3rd millennium migrations, based on a pastoral mode of production. Kinship system, traction technologies and diseases are evaluated, as well as Indo-European texts. Also a comparison with ethnographically known pastoral groups.

Film by Roy Keys, "Vienna talks".

Conversation on DNA, heritage and archaeology: Podcast Inside the Box

Kristian Kristiansen discussed DNA, heritage and archaeology with Karin Boijs and moderator Johanna Lundin autumn 2019. 

Science in conservation and heritage management

Strand leader: Stavroula Golfomitsou

This strand function as a platform to discuss objects and how deterioration, life events and conservation affects the way they are viewed and understood.

Activities focus on creating a dialogue on how recent scientific advances can inform the above-mentioned issues and the wider impact of conservation.

Conservation can facilitate understanding of objects; however if done inappropriately interventions can mislead or erase evidence related to the way an object was made and used. In addition, treatments can erase evidence of history and alter appearance because due to lack of suitable restoration methods. Advances in scientific fields such as analytical chemistry and applied physics and the application of novel methods and tools in conservation, archaeology and technical art history offer new ways to assess past and current practices.

Series on Street art

The street art theme partially builds on the experience of the research project Coming Clean, with participants both from UCL and UGOT, as well as several other institutions from different parts of the world. But it also extends beyond this project and connects to the research project A critical examination of the conservation of Wall Paintings in Sweden, funded by the Swedish National Heritage Board.

Street art, event I: Street art perplexions
The first event in May 2021 called Street art perplexions: a panel discussion on value, conservation, policy and education had panel discussant from Greece, Germany and Sweden, and participants from a large range of countries, including officials from the Getty Institute in the US.

The background is the growing international recognition of the importance of developing methods and approaches to the conservation of street art and the multitude of materials used by artists for their public creations. Studies have demonstrated the often extremely ephemeral nature of pigments and binding media used in the production of street art, and recent studies have focused on testing of materials to address specific degradation phenomena. Conservation aims to document condition, understand artistic process and conserve wall paintings in situ. The panel brought together different experts to discuss the role of art history, policy, education and the development of the conservation profession for the preservation of street art:

  • Jacob Kimvall (University of Stockholm): The creation, listing and unlisting of the graffiti mural Fascinate (1989)
  • Henrik Widmark (University of Uppsala) : Loving the team – The thin line between autonomous expressions and janitorial work
  • Hélène Svahn Garreau (Tyrens): Approaches to conserving public art
  • Catherine Mellander Backman (Swedish National Heritage Board): Public Art and Conservation Policy
  • Adrian Heritage (Cologne University of Applied Sciences): It's Like Talkin to a Wall
  • Maria Chatzidakis (University of West Attica): Street art conservation: from the kindness of strangers to a conservation policy.

The discussion started with short statements of the participants,  it was followed by a discussion based on a series of questions by the moderators and followed by a general debate with the audience. The arguments were sometimes heated, and it became obvious that there are highly diverging viewpoints on if, why and how to conserve street art with high relevance both for conservation professionals and for critical heritage studies as such. The seminar also led to the formulation of a second session on the subject.

Steet art part II: Street and Public Art

The next event titled Street and Public Art: artists, communities and the conservation of history in the making was planned for December but had to be postponed to January 28th 2022.
Public art is usually commissioned while street art is typically unauthorised and ephemeral. Despite the differences in scope and context between them, the public often engages with public and street art, with strong reactions related to disavowal and aversion, enjoyment and adoration, and many artworks in the public space stir controversy. 
The University of Gothenburg is organizing a discussion on the topic of the conservation and the preservation of contemporary and recent public and street art. Who decides what is to be preserved and how? Bringing together artists, art historians, policy makers and conservators the panel will discuss how public and street art is curated and preserved in Sweden and abroad. We will also examine the ways in which the public attributes values in different contexts and the role communities play in the preservation of public and street art.
The panel includes:
Carolina Falkholt (Artist)
Marina Pugliese (Head of Public Art, City of Milan)
Karin Hermeren (Head of Conservation, Moderna Museet, Stockholm)
Cathrine Mellander Backman, (Senior Advisor, Swedish National Heritage Board)
Flavia Perugini (Senior Project Specialist, Getty Conservation Institute)
The program is a part of the FOU project “A critical assessment of Wall Painting Conservation in Sweden” funded by the the National Heritage Board, Sweden and coordinated by the University of Gothenburg. This is a second panel of three related to the field of street art.

Photo: Jenny Högström Berntson


The UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage The UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage delivers sustainable solutions to real world problems concerning cultural heritage, working with external partners on ground-breaking, cross-disciplinary research and innovative teaching for future heritage leaders. We are part of The Bartlett: UCL’s global faculty of the built environment.