UCL News


Event: Cultural Property: an ethical resource for study and enjoyment

11 September 2009

Date: Friday 18th September 2009, 1:30pm - 6pm Location: UCL, Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT Next week UCL will host a half-day conference examining the use of 'cultural property' in Higher Education teaching and research.

In addition to providing a forum for topical debate, the event will also see UCL launch its new 'Cultural Property Policy' - a document designed to provide ethical leadership and support best practice in the use of cultural property as an academic resource.

"'Cultural property' includes everything from individual books, paintings, photographs and ethnographic objects, to anatomical specimens, collections and even buildings," explains Sally MacDonald, Director of UCL Museums & Collections. "The term is incredibly broad and can be applied to anything with artistic, historic, scientific or social significance.

"UCL is the first British university to put together a comprehensive policy which establishes a robust position on the ownership, acquisition, use, publication, protection and disposal of all cultural property."

The new policy and guidance sets out to advise staff and students about how they can comply with the law and exercise due diligence in the acquisition and subsequent management of material, fully documenting the acquisition and disposal of all items.

"This is not just about having a policy," continues Ms MacDonald. "What we're trying to do is completely change people's approach to cultural property. Making sure that people know what to do when they're presented with new objects is absolutely essential, as is the need to establish a transparent approach to cataloguing and dealing with cultural property. We also need to get away from the idea that this is something which only affects art historians, archaeologists or curators- people we assume are working with cultural artefacts. . Instead, we need to understand that this process applies to everybody who works in universities'

"This is the only way to ensure that these things are responsibly managed and we don't find ourselves with labs and offices full of obscure items, the origins of which are a mystery."

The half-day conference will include an international panel of speakers discussing issues such as the looting of antiquities, the acquisition of art and recent changes to English and international law relating to cultural property.

The afternoon will be relevant to any member of the academic, cultural, scientific or administrative community whose work involves or impinges on the use of cultural property.


Notes for editors

To attend the event or request a copy of UCL's new Cultural Property Policy please contact the UCL Press Office on +44 (0) 20 7679 9739 or email ruth.howells@ucl.ac.uk

More information about UCL and cultural property can be found at www.ucl.ac.uk/cultural-property