Preserve, Reserve or Dispose?

We live in an age of austerity which means that hard economic decisions are being made about our heritage. Everything costs, but some things cost more (paraphrasing George Orwell ). To preserve (conserve) reserve or dispose an item can be a subjective decision, and can have political stresses laid against it.

To me it depends on how much we value our heritage, not in monetary terms (though one could argue the value of our tourism industry), but in cultural terms.

The picture shows sad looking boxes containing monuments destroyed by fire, dismantled and removed.  There are four monuments, three of which belonged to a family who have no further interest in them. The fourth is an historic monument of some art historical importance, this one is in a poorer condition. They all come from an historic public building.

Ideally one would preserve (conserve) these monuments and replace them on the walls of the (restored) building. However the building, totally burned out is to have a change of use. What to do with the monuments then, they belong with the building.

After a condition check and assessment of the site the following options were available:

  1. Preserve/Conserve. To reconstruct and replace on the walls. The building will not have load bearing walls in many places, so places to reconstruct and replace are limited.
  2. To record, pack and store the fragments in a suitable environment within the building. The storage space available is not big enough to take all of the fragments.
  3. To record, pack and store the fragments at an off-site environmentally controlled store.
  4. To dispose. This is not considered an option by the interested parties.

What would you do?monument boxes

2 thoughts on “Preserve, Reserve or Dispose?

  1. Julie Beachwood

    In my humble and uneducated opinion, I think I would consider splitting the monuments between the options if possible Reconstruct any that would be able to be placed on the limited wall space so that the heritage can still be linked and enjoyed. The rest to be recorded and stored safely in either storage place with a view to swapping reconstucted monuments in the future years, those in poorest condition stored off site. I believe we need to look to the future and remember that just because in the present time the resources/time/knowledge/space may be limited to save these pieces, future generations may be more fortunate. Even the smallest fragment is important and always will be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Julie! Thank you for commenting! I agree, the fragments of each monument needs to be kept together whichever option is chosen. Interestingly I would prefer to see the monument, which is the most important art historically, as priority for reconstruction and replacing in the building where it will be in ambient conditions, and be seen – so that if it deteriorates someone will notice. Yes,yes! Though some of the monuments are not considered interesting at the moment, they may be more appreciated by a future generation and, you never know, they might want to conserve them. So if they are kept well, the conservation decisions could be re-visited. Still learning how to use this site, but if I can I’ll publish our conversation. All the best, Julia


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