Cultural Heritage plays a manifold role in Europe – both as a source of cultural identity and historical belonging, but also on an economic level, providing jobs through tourism and through restoration efforts. But among the shared values and elements of European history and cultural heritage that require greater emphasis is the science that has contributed to shaping and linking European nations over the centuries.
The European Commission’s call for feedback on the evaluation of the European Heritage Label Action provided a unique opportunity to pass along this very message, and to further promote the need to better recognise the role science and chemistry play in our cultural makeup as well as in its conservation.
In our response, we both highlighted areas in which the Label Action overlaps with existing cultural heritage labels or programmes, as well as provided feedback on how the evaluation could better achieve results. EuChemS has in turn submitted a Position Paper which emphasises the need to better recognise the role of science in the history of Europe – both as a fundamental feature of the European construction project, but also in its active role in protecting and preserving our heritage. This is an issue which is all the more pertinent as interest in STEM decreases, and the divide between citizens and science appears to widen.
As a highly active and invested player in this field, we furthermore informed the European Commission of our own initiative. The EuChemS Historical Landmarks, which will have specific sites recognised as central to European chemistry, is an award which was discussed over the course of two years, with the first call for nominations published in 2017. The results will be unveiled later this year. The Award aims to reinforce a sense of belonging of European chemists and to bring to the public some sense of how chemistry is part of the general cultural heritage and history of every European citizen.
EuChemS perceives the European Heritage Label Action as a very positive initiative, and its evaluation is an invaluable opportunity to better assess the ways in which the Action can be improved. By recognising the role science has played in shaping the European project as well as its ever-present role in Europe’s cultural makeup and crucial importance in conservation efforts, the Label can help bring science back to citizens in a concrete, informative and unique way.
Chair, EuChemS Working Party on Chemistry for Cultural Heritage
Brigitte Van Tiggelen,
Chair, EuChemS Working Party on the History of Chemistry
EuChemS General Secretary
EuChemS Science Communication and Policy Officer