Theses Master's

Rethinking Heritage Volunteering in Historic Preservation

Li, Xiyu

The combination of volunteering and heritage is a cultural phenomenon, it has been intentionally or unintentionally seen to foster a high level of public engagement in heritage practices. While many museums have ongoing volunteer practices, there is a rising tendency for heritage sites to adopt heritage volunteering plans in documenting, conserving, interpreting, and alternatively supporting cultural heritage.

The paper uses qualitative and quantitative data from the European Heritage Volunteers Project 2022: Conservation Works at Mining Water Systems & Technical Artifacts to focus on heritage volunteering in conserving historic sites. It intends to answer two overall thesis questions. First, how do we look at this public–heritage interaction that expands the breadth, depth, and numbers of people in participating heritage practices? Second, how do we balance and reconcile a heritage volunteer program's potential differences and conflicts with the established heritage practices?

The paper does not advocate overturning and replacing the current heritage practice with heritage volunteering. Instead, the paper acknowledges current heritage practices and critical aspects that might suggest necessary reforms for future heritage practices. Given that, the paper takes a multidisciplinary approach to examine a selective case and proposes assessing and mitigating methods for potential negative impacts of heritage volunteering on historic sites and volunteers. In addition, the paper makes some recommendations for overall heritage volunteering and specific chosen case.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
McEnaney, Elizabeth
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 14, 2023