msb ~043 Palliative curation

Palliative curation  

heritage beyond saving

I value my memory of the blistering critique I received when speaking to environmental experts about sometimes having to ‘let go’ of loved sites of natural or cultural heritage as the contradictions of trying to ‘hold back’ historic climate change become starker: “Wooly-minded fudge!” Particular scorn came when I mentioned ‘palliative curation’. Many of the ideas we’re going to have to explore are contentious, even provocative, so my only complaint is that I’d done a poor job explaining the possibilities. 

Caitlin DeSilvey, author of the Anticipatory History entry Palliative curation, wrote more recently: “By now it seems evident that climate change, falling budgets and other pressures will mean some heritage sites cannot be protected in perpetuity … This should not always be viewed as a failure, but can involve a deliberate decision to allow nature to take its course and to learn from change… It is easier to do this if you appreciate that sometimes caring … may involve taking a step back, and seeing places as … processes that operate on much longer timeframes than our limited human perspective usually allows for … the colonisation of buildings by travelling plants, the interplay of structural and coastal erosion, and the abiding aesthetics of decay…”

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