Daniel Silver, Dig (detail)

This new Research Network (established February 2014) examines the varied ways in which archaeology, heritage and art converge across a broad range of concepts and practices, from artistic interventions in the museum space to archaeological interpretations which deploy and take inspiration from contemporary art. Whilst the network remains open to diverse topics and research strands, key themes reflect the strengths of the Institute of Archaeology and the Heritage Studies Section in particular.

Archaeology Heritage Art Logo

These include: the use of art to critique archaeology (and vice-versa); the emergence of the photo-essay as a critical tool in archaeology and heritage; the role of art in public archaeology; artists, archaeologists and heritage practitioners as social activists; intersections of conservation and creativity; and the importance of art and heritage to wellbeing.

Archaeology and heritage have a long shared history with art, as well as crucial points of tension which help animate their convergence and divergence. Artists have routinely looked to archaeology for inspiration, from painters referencing the spectacular discoveries of Pompeii to the adoption of an ‘archaeological lens’ by contemporary artists keen to approach landscapes or objects in new ways. At the same time, archaeologists and other heritage professionals have made significant use of artistic practice to better understand their field of interest, whether in the form of photography, creative writing, performance, sculpture or simply sketching unearthed material. In recent years the critical examination of these cross-fertilisations has become a vibrant area of practice and research in its own right.

Building on this, the long-term aims of the network include:

Katharina Frisch, Hahn/Cock, Trafalgar Square Fourth Plinth
  • Providing intellectual space for the critical analysis of the interrelationship between archaeology, heritage and art
  • Encouraging transdisciplinary research into this area
  • Increasing public engagement with ongoing archaeological and heritage research at the Institute through diverse artistic practices (exhibitions, workshops, public lectures, participatory events)
  • Building a network beyond the Institute of scholars, heritage practitioners, curators, writers, artists and archaeologists already engaged in this field

With a specific orientation towards heritage, this network thus contributes to a burgeoning sub-field which is inherently interdisciplinary and provides numerous opportunities for outward-facing projects under the auspices of the Institute of Archaeology. A key ambition here is to ‘open up’ new and innovative ways of thinking about and researching the past in the present through greater engagement with artistic practices. 

The network held its inaugural event at the Institute of Archaeology on 23 May 2014. A display of artwork was exhibited in an informal setting, aiming to re-imagine the 19th Century ‘Conversazione’ - a relaxed forum for discussion of the arts and sciences .

The network held its 'Conversazione II' at the Institute on 12 December 2014. Read more»

The network also co-organised the Institute Research Seminar series on 'Future Pasts | Present Futures: Critical Conversations on the ‘Contemporary’ across disciplines' (Term II, Spring 2015).

The network organised a group visit to The Museum of Innocence exhibition at Somerset House (March 2016).

The network held its 'Conversazione III: Fragments - Archaeologies in and of the architectural library' at the RIBA on 21 July 2016.

The network is organising a lecture by acclaimed artist Marguerite Humeau at UCL on 19 October 2016.

Related outputs

Network Co-ordinators:

Network Partners:

Other partners are currently being sought. Please get in touch if you would like to join this new Research Network


Further information:

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