Issues in Conservation—Three Value Moments in the Public Perception of Cultural Heritage Objects in Public Spaces
Cultural heritage professionals are becoming increasingly concerned about the lack of care being taken by municipalities for their cultural heritage objects which include works of art in public places. They have therefore begun to ask the public to help take care of "their" cultural heritage through so-called public participation projects. Cultural heritage professionals tacitly assume that if they "teach" the public to treasure such objects of "their" heritage, the public will become more
... ll become more proactive in helping to conserve them. However, research being conducted by the authors is showing that a majority of the general public often has a completely different awareness and/or feeling about cultural heritage objects in their neighborhoods than the cultural heritage professionals think they have, or think they should have. Three recent case studies carried out by the authors show that these differences are most noticeable during so-called "value moments" at the beginning and at the perceived end of an object's life. These are the two moments when decisions are made, usually by cultural heritage professionals, to place an object in a neighborhood or have it significantly changed or removed, often to the surprise and disagreement of the residents. Between these two moments lay many moments when an object is taken for granted, grudgingly accepted, or not even noticed. Given the fact that cultural heritage professionals often make the ultimate decisions and do not always consider or outright ignore public opinion, it should not be surprising that there is an increasingly negative public perception of what they do. The results of the case studies illustrate the need for professionals to consider and accept as valid, public feelings about cultural heritage objects in their neighborhoods.