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National Heritage Science Forum (NHSF) welcomes new Chair

On 16th December 50 people gathered at University College London for the National Heritage Science Forum’s second Members & Friends event.

Attendees had the opportunity to visit the SEAHA Mobile Heritage Lab, a unique research and public engagement vehicle that is a joint initiative of UCL, University of Oxford and the University of Brighton, before hearing the evening’s talks which started with Simon Cane, Director of Public and Cultural Engagement at UCL, welcoming people to the event and speaking about the value of public engagement to heritage science and the role that heritage science plays in developing people’s understanding of culture and heritage.

Nancy Bell, NHSF’s out-going Co-Chair reflected on the year’s achievements, highlighting the Kit-Catalogue that supports the sharing of equipment and strengthening of research partnerships between organisations She also pointed to current and future developments such as work to identify the gaps in research that remain five years on from the publication of the National Heritage Science Strategy.

The evening’s keynote speech was delivered by Alastair McCapra, NHSF’s newly appointed Chairman. Alastair spoke on the topic Cash for Data? He addressed the opportunities that may exist for generating income from heritage science but spoke convincingly of the benefits of open data, open access, open science. A lively question and answer session, chaired by Professor May Cassar, followed including questions about the fragmentation of the heritage science data set from Ewan Hyslop, Historic Environment Scotland, the impact of forthcoming requirements for open access to data on museums, libraries and archives from Edward Impey of Royal Armouries and the skills development needs of the heritage science sector from Gary Grubb of AHRC. You can view the full speech on the NHSF website.

The National Heritage Science Forum’s role as an enabler of collaboration and a uniting force for heritage science was evident. Its future challenges include building capacity for heritage science, championing the development of a robust infrastructure to capitalise on the achievements of the last 10 years, and supporting a continuing move to openness that will enable wide public engagement with heritage science with associated benefits in terms of public understanding of, and responsibility for, cultural heritage.