Alert in the 21st Century. Changes in Theory of Heritage Protection in Tangible, Intangible and Digital Signs


'Alert' presents the need to extend the theory of preservation of cultural heritage in terms of not only material (tangible), but also immamaterial (intangible) and digital. In the face of changes in the contemporary world, we are faced with overwhelming changes in the heritage area that modify the mission of "preservin and share". The present situation shows the inadequacy of old conservation theories and the fragmentation of doctrines. The author presents in a clear structure possible scenarios for solving the crisis in the theory and system of protection. The new topics range from the theory of conservation of traditional disciplines through its extended recognition and documentation - to the innovative preservation of an extended area of ​​heritage, along with the paradigms of contemporary theory. Other issues relate to the need to reform existing procedures in cultural institutions. When participating in the cultural breakthrough, we should not be passive or revolutionary, but adapt the theory, projects and legislation accordingly. Being proactive requires answering basic questions: what do we protect in the face of expanding the field of cultural heritage? How to jointly (holistically) preserve the hitherto primacy of material culture and at the same time sanction the preservation of the intangible heritage? Do we recognize and respond in time to the growing importance of digitization of the symptoms of art and its emerging heritage? How to provoke optimal participation of recipients in the preservation of heritage? The answers to these questions turn out to be very important as they can be a helpful signpost of change with value analysis in two complementary categories: cultural-historical and socio-economic, which actually interpenetrate each other.


heritage of visual arts; conservation theory; value analysis; paradigms of contemporary conservation theory; pillars of conservation practice

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Published : 2021-12-29

Szmelter, I. (2021). Alert in the 21st Century. Changes in Theory of Heritage Protection in Tangible, Intangible and Digital Signs. Protection of Cultural Heritage, (12), 55-70.

Iwona Szmelter
Wydział Konserwacji-Restauracji Dzieł Sztuki, Akademia Sztuk Pięknych w Warszawie  Poland