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Mission nationale de sauvegarde du patrimoine scientifique et technique contemporain

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European Scientific and Technical HERitage

The safeguarding of the instruments, processes and know-how of the scientific and industrial research over the last 80 years (post-WWII) becomes, within universities and industries, an urgent necessity, before the definitive disappearing of all these heritage.

As we have been working on this issue since 1996, we have gained the experience to develop safeguarding methodology on a regional scale and, since 2003 on a national level.

Since 2006 we have gathered several international partners to develop a European safeguarding policy of contemporary scientific and technological heritage.

The French program has attracted interest from international museums and academic institutions, including in Belgium, Italy, Greece, Germany, England, Switzerland, Serbia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Spain, and Portugal. These countries formed a consortium in 2008 to respond to a European project tender. The objectives of this consortium call ESTHER were to build a similar classification, to develop a common methodology for data entries, to create a European database, and to consider sharing collection tasks between the different countries.

In 2011 we created the network ESTHER (European contemporary scientific and technical heritage) with other national museums in Europe: the Deutsches Museum in Munich, the Science Museum in London and the Museo Nazionale Scienza e Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci in Milan.

The aim of the network is to investigate and share methodologies and approaches for the safeguarding of scientific and technological heritage of the last 80 years: What should be safeguarded? Which objects? Which know-how? What have been the fundamental technological evolutions during this period of time? Is it possible to write a guide on this topic?

Other museums or universities like Ingenium Canada (Museum) and the MIT Museum are now also part of the network.

We keep discussing and sharing best practices during annual or bi-annual meetings on this topics in Paris at the Conservatoire National des arts et métiers or in other venues.

1 – One theme or one priority question, chosen especially among the objectives of the ESTHER network
2 – A presentation of the progress of a museum or a university in this field in a specific country.

Some examples of priority issues:

How to develop a common methodology for the inventory of the scientific and technological heritage and of the know-how of the last 80 years.
Development of an inventory common sheet, artefacts classification, selection criteria, development of a common guide.

A common tool for collecting and performing the inventory
To share a common tool with a professional front end interface on the web in order to share practices and progress of the project.

Information and training of professional networks
This new field requires to communicate towards heritage professional networks, and to propose trainings, workshops, meetings, publications in this area.

Promotion to the public
Interpretation of contemporary scientific heritage for large-scale popular audiences, for example in exhibitions and online

Development of a wider international network in this field

To carry on thinking about this field of work which is at the crossroad of various disciplines. To share good practices, contents or developments, to communicate widely.

Patrimoine Scientifique et Technique Contemporain
Mission nationale de sauvegarde du patrimoine scientifique et technique contemporain
Ministère de la Recherche CNAM Université de Nantes

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