Skip to content >

How is the uncertainty of the deep future conceived of and managed in different fields of conservation practice?

What do we mean when we say ‘forever’? In this theme, we’re comparing three domains and seeing how they can challenge, inform and strengthen each other: the heritage ‘forever’ that is present in designations like UNESCO’s World Heritage Site; the ‘forever’ of messages sent to deep space; and the ‘forever’ of nuclear waste disposal. We’ll be asking how these different futures are constructed and manipulated in the present. How can we recognise these futures in the world around us? Heritage is often said to be the human legacy preserved for the benefit of future generations. However, it typically remains unclear precisely when these future generations will live and how we can make the right decisions in the present with their best interests in mind. The main challenge lies in how to prepare for the future’s inherent uncertainty. The aim is to capitalise on the creative potential released by the common acknowledgement across these organisations of an uncertain future, with the intention to conceive of heritage differently. What happens when we come to see nuclear waste as heritage? How can a space message transform the human legacy? Can heritage help us reduce risks of future development on Earth? We will explore specifically how the proposed Lake District World Heritage Site operationalises such visions of uncertain futures.



Afterlives Salon


This salon to accompany the current Octagon exhibition Cabinets of Consequence will explore how heritage and other related forms of conservation practices (including nuclear waste management) make futures.  How do we use material culture to stitch futures from pasts? What do we conserve? What do we get rid of? What do we allow to change? This Salon will be staged as a series of conversations across various themes currently being explored within the Heritage Futures research programme,Event held at Haldane Room, Wilkins Building , Gower Street WC1

Rodney Harrison
Cornelius Holtorf
Caitlin DeSilvey
Sefryn Penrose
Sarah May
Jennie Morgan
Nadia Bartolini
Antony Lyons
Kyle Lee Crossett


Nuclear Waste Management
Deep Space Messaging
World Heritage Site Management
Natural Heritage Management
Built Heritage Management
Cultural Diversity



"Cathedral of Hope" to be made from seaborne plastic + #Plastozilla "When it turns out that there is money in plas…