European Commission - 7th Framework Programme European Museums and Libraries in/of the age of migrations last updated: February 2015

Conference: Challenging History

23 - 25 February 2012

London, United Kingdom | City University London


This Conference, Challenging History: Understanding Aims, Audiences and Outcomes in Work with Difficult and Sensitive Heritages, is the culmination of a two year project that originated with the Challenging History series of seminars in 2009, held at Historic Royal Palaces - Tower of London. The programme was conceived to explore the role, aims and outcomes of heritage and museum learning programmes in relation to difficult and controversial subjects (see for more on the continuing work of the project).

A challenging history is any history that is contested, or difficult and upsetting to know about.

Challenging History – that is at once a community of like-minded individuals, a forum for discussion, a collaborative program and an advocate for change in the way audiences engage with shared historybelieves the museum and heritage sector has an important role to play covering these histories in their spaces and programmes, and must do this work to stay relevant. It also believes at a personal and societal level it is important to acknowledge and learn about these histories that contribute to our understanding of the world and how we want to live in it.

Since 2009, the Challenging History group has been working with heritage professionals, practitioners and academics in order to explore and interrogate issues raised in work with difficult, contested and sensitive heritages in a range of museum contexts, within and beyond the UK. The project acknowledges that all history is – to a greater or lesser degreechallenging, and encourages practitioners to consider how heritage interpretation can better acknowledge this complexity at its core.

The Challenging History Conference aims to bring together those working in disparate and diverse locations and disciplines to help explore the practicalities, limitations and ethical implications of work in this knotty area of heritage interpretation. The programme will foster collaboration and shared understanding between academia and the heritage sector, and offer opportunities for networking, demonstrating approaches and practice, and presenting empirical research.

Promoted by: the Challanging History project, funded by Grundtvig and supported by the MLA, including partners in the UK (Historic Royal Palaces, the Tower of London, the Imperial War Museum, Orleans House Gallery, MLA and City University), Germany (the Forum for Contemporary History) and the Czech Republic (Lidice Memorial).



» link to the Conference 

» link to the Project