The Roman frontier along the river Rhine

juni 29 2016

The role of museums in revitalizing cultural landscapes

A multidisciplinary session at the ICOM General Conference in Milan. Wednesday 6 July, from 13.15-16.15 Amber Hall 5, South Wing (level +2)

Click here to download the Flyers.

At the start, we counted 50 people, later 60, after the first break 60 and after second break 20. The total number of people reached may have been about 70.

These notes are not complete without the abstracts.

David Breeze (UK)
1987 Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage. This was the start of the project “Frontiers of the Roman Empire”
Two types of border in Lower Germania:
1.    Normal river frontier in Germany
2.    Rhine Delta with smaller fortresses and excellent archaeological preservation
The biggest issue is that there is not much visibility nowadays. Museums and their movable artefacts are not part of World Heritage, which in essence is immovable. Museums are the best place to explain multi-phased sites and with that attract visitors to the sites. Museums function as gateways and a good museum visit leads to repeat museum visit and visits to sites.

Erik Graafstal (Hogewoerd, NL)
The hidden Roman Frontier landscape.
The subject was not well known ten years ago in the Netherlands. The challenge was to turn heritage into social capital. Around Utrecht, there are several new Roman interpretation sites. Hogewoerd, the largest of them, is multifunctional. The challenge in the Limesproject is cooperation and coherence. He mentions the mix of indoor Info and outdoor experience. In the Limes package Hogewoerd offers visitors they have to link with other, very different stakeholders, like hotels, shopping centres et cetera. Hogewoerd receives good feedback from its visitors and reaches in its first year about 100 – 120,000 visitors.

Martin Müller (APX Xanten, DE)
The main tasks of the APX are:
1.    Protection of the archaeological site
2.    Exploration of it
3.    Presentation of it
In the years 2006 – 2012 a large part of the archaeological site which was not yet in hands of the organisation was bought. It is difficult to visualize the archaeology, which is underground. The harbour temple partial reconstruction is also a sarcophagus to protect the original remains; the same is with the three shops. There is a tension between research and tourism but it is important to show the APX is a science centre too. Their main cooperation partners in the museum world are Carnuntum and Augst.
The costs for the phase 2006-2020 are 80 Million Euro.

Christof Flügel (Bayern, DE)
The non-visibility is a problem. Our goal is to become UNESCO World Heritage. If that works, the Limes would be the largest World Heritage zone in Europe.
The Limeseum in Ruffenhofen is an interpretation centre with few finds and has cost 4.2 Million EUR. The landscape is the attraction; the centre is there to teach visitors to read the landscape. The storyline approach was taken from the UK.
Important is sound research and a continuous quality control.
Tamar Leene: how well are the apps used?
Christophe Flügel: 1,000 downloads in 6 months but the museums do not promote it.
Smaller museums are not crushed by the bigger ones, often the smaller ones are examples of best practice.

Frederike Ouwerkerk (NHTV, NL)
How well could the Limes serve as destination (tourist attraction)? The stories are very important and can create memoryscapes. Important is to be authentic.

Tamar Leene (NL) & Thomas Otten (DE)
The challenge is to have the Limes in the Netherlands and NRW / Rheinland-Pfalz listed as World Heritage. In the whole Limes, twenty countries in three continents are involved. More coherence is needed (ICOMOS intends to help). Political involvement and commitment is very important as well. The archaeological sites are very diverse. Museums are doing well, there are some new Roman museums popping up as well in the near future. However, museums should cooperate more.

Jurn Buisman (ICOMOS-NL)
Buisman emphasises the importance of water and how ICOMOS (immovable heritage) and ICOM (movable heritage) could cooperate.

DISCUSSION

Renger de Bruin: what is the value of museums for the Limes Project?
-    David Breeze: museums are gateways to cultural heritage. Do not sell yourself short but look at the wider links: even countries far away from the Roman Frontier have Roman artefacts and link themselves to the Limes.
-    Tamar Leene: Help people to interpret, make it an authentic experience for the visitor.
-    Martin Müller: visualize archaeological remains
-    Frederieke Ouwerkerk: invite the local community, make the Roman past their past and make sure all countries in Europe take part.
-    Christof Flügel: the role of museums is to create pictures but the responsibility of museums is that these pictures are correct!
-    Erik Graafstal: Lower Rhine Limes: so little is to see, the remains are in the museums so that is why the museums are essential. A special mention for site museums, which carry a magic touch.
-    Jurn Buisman: The Rhine was a highway. The lesson for the future is to protect the heritage and connect with the community.
-    Thomas Otten: museums, besides their usual tasks should do more to interpret, tell the story.
Luc Eekhout: what about the larger issues in the world, how relevant are museums for globalisation, enhancing citizenship and interculturalism?
Tamar Leene: exactly these big themes give museums relevance.
David Breeze: these modern themes are coming into the museum, which is fantastic.
Sanjin Mihelic (Kroatia): to what extent will the process in the UK of applying for WH status help with the process elsewhere and do the museums have a role in the management plans, which need to be part of the application to become a world heritage site?
Christof Flügel: management plans take time to write, be careful! Museums MUST be part of this.
David Breeze: yes, we learn from each other and museums are important stakeholders.
Jurn Buisman: Museums are little mentioned in the applications but they have a big role in the execution, they tell the story.