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Think Tank: What Role Should Cultural Heritage Professionals and Organizations Play in Monument Removal?

December 6, 2022

Latest Policy Brief Outlines Best Practices Based on Lessons Learned from Museum Deaccessioning

From the United States, to Senegal, to Ukraine, communities are increasingly reevaluating the legacy of public monuments, especially those erected during prior regimes. This is a complex process, requiring consideration and input from a wide range of stakeholders. However, in many cases, heritage organizations have not yet taken an organized role to support citizens and their governments in navigating these difficult waters. 

In the Antiquities Coalition’s newest policy brief, Kate Harrell and Damian Koropeckyj call on cultural heritage professionals to play an active part in this ongoing conversation, given the field’s wealth of knowledge regarding the care, conservation, documentation relocation, storage, and removal of cultural property. They also argue that should a community decide to remove a monument, this action should be considered a form of “community deaccessioning,” analogous to deaccessioning within the museum space, and thus guided by written policies and best practices. The authors provide a series of recommendations to support heritage professionals in developing such principles based on what has worked in the museum context.    

“Moving forward together as an international community of experts in heritage is particularly important in the face of issues as fraught as monumental removal” Harrell and Koropeckyj write. “The policy recommendations that follow should be considered a call for action for both heritage workers and their executive organizational bodies.”

This is the twelfth policy brief published by the Antiquities Coalition Tank, which works to bring high-quality, innovative, and results-oriented research to the world’s decision makers. The institution seeks to foster debate and discussion on the most pressing challenges facing cultural heritage today, whether the illicit antiquities trade, armed conflict, or climate change. It was honored in 2018 as one of the world’s “Best New Think Tanks” by the University of Pennsylvania’s prestigious Global Go To Think Tank Index.

For a summary and link to the policy brief, click here.