Institute of Archaeology


Archaeology-Heritage-Art Network

The Archaeology-Heritage-Art Research Network re-launched in 2022 with a new programme supported by a CCHS grant and new members are welcome.

Archaeology-Heritage-Art research network logo

This Research Network examines the varied ways in which archaeology, heritage and art converge across a broad range of concepts and practices – from artistic methodologies in fieldwork, to 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 cross-disciplinary research across the Institute of Archaeology, in particular the Heritage Studies Section, and in the Slade School of Fine Art.

These include: the use of art to critique archaeology (and vice-versa); shared approaches to fieldwork and place-specificity; 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 activists; challenging the notion of the ‘contemporary’ and emergent future in art, archaeology and heritage; 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, fieldwork 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. This research network looks to deepen this enquiry, and ask what innovative approaches can be developed that go beyond inspiration, through active engagement and collaboration across these fields. 

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

  • Providing intellectual space for the critical analysis of the interrelationship between art, archaeology and heritage.
  • Encouraging transdisciplinary research into this area within UCL departments.
  • 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 Archaeology and the Slade School of Fine Art, of scholars, heritage practitioners, curators, writers, artists and archaeologists already engaged in this field.

With a specific orientation towards critical heritage and contemporary art, this network contributes to a burgeoning sub-field which is inherently interdisciplinary and provides numerous opportunities for outward-facing projects under the auspices of both the Institute of Archaeology and the Slade School of Fine Art. A key ambition here is to open up new and innovative ways of thinking about and researching both the past and future in the present through greater engagement across these disciplines.

Programme: ‘Interdisciplinary Methodologies’

The 2022-23 activity of the AHA Research Network including six forums with guest speakers and two in-person visits (London) will focus on key questions across three research threads: FIELDWORKARCHIVES, and MEMORY to ask how academics and practitioners can develop genuine interdisciplinary methodologies, connections, tools, frameworks and applications between the fields of contemporary art, archaeology and heritage. The sessions will commence in early March. The programme is open to all students and staff across UCL.




If you would like to be added to the mailing list for upcoming events or to the AHA MSTeams group to join further discussion please email:

nastassja.simensky.20@ucl.ac.uk or ellen.pavey.18@ucl.ac.uk

Further details

Previous events

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