UCL News


Evidence submitted to science and heritage inquiry

3 April 2006

UCL has submitted written evidence in response to the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee as part of its Inquiry on Science and Heritage.

UCL President and Provost, Professor Malcolm Grant who submitted the evidence to the Inquiry, was invited to give oral evidence to the Committee at the House of Lords on 14 March 2006. He described conservation science as an area that is potentially rich with multidisciplinary opportunity appropriate to an institution like UCL, but where strategy and funding are both elusive.

The Committee's report and recommendations, to be published this summer, will cover historic buildings, works of art, books, manuscripts, records and archaeological relics. Chairman of the Sub-Committee, Baroness Sharp of Guildford, said: "Britain is endowed with a rich cultural heritage. Science, engineering and technology (SET), can play an important role in both deepening our knowledge and understanding of that heritage while at the same time helping preserve it for future generations. The purpose of our inquiry will be to examine whether we are making are making the best possible use of SET."

UCL has a strong commitment to science and heritage across a number of disciplines, not least for the interests of its own extensive collections. Research conducted in the fields of sustainable heritage, environmental economics, archaeology, earth sciences, geomatic engineering, computer science, conservation, chemistry, built environment and library, archive and information studies all contribute to the advancement of understanding and innovations in technology for cultural heritage.

UCL's evidence raises the need for a national conservation science research strategy to identify priorities for future research and funding in the emerging area of conservation science. It also suggests that there should be a repository of knowledge and a dedicated funding stream for conservation science, while drawing attention to how structural changes at international level have made funding problems worse.

According to the evidence, the conservation of collections in museums, galleries, libraries, archives and historic properties is particularly vulnerable in the current climate.

The evidence calls for knowledge transfer opportunities from conservation science research to be capitalised, using education as a key channel for bridging the gap between conservation science research and practice, and highlights research opportunities in the development of information technologies for cultural heritage.

Professor May Cassar, Director of the UCL Centre for Sustainable Heritage has also been appointed as Specialist Adviser to the Inquiry.

To find out more about the Inquiry, or to read UCL's written evidence and the transcript of the Oral Session, use the links at the bottom of this article.