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  • Writer's pictureTomislav S. Šola

From Occupation(s) to a Heritage Profession

Theory based on a wide concept of heritage has far-reaching effects. We may be talking finally about the science of public memory in which Museography, alias Museology remains a set of practical, institution-specific, methods and technologies. General theory brings a priori multidisciplinary mentality to any heritage expert who would be able to use of heritage for the benefit of society. This theory will soon transform into another applied science be it Heritology or Mnemosophy (T. Sola,1982 and 1987, respectively).

There are maybe twenty-five, or more than thirty proper professions and that all other hundreds of human agencies are merely occupations. If this is correct, it would explain certain problems of the world of museums, but also conservators, archivists, librarians and the like. Professions have their obligatory characteristics as none can be practiced without licence or obligatory training, autonomy, to name a few. All the professions are socially recognized and appraised, their role in society is accepted and highly positioned by the dominant forces of the society. They are most frequently either members or supporters of that power structure. In that sense, the work in museums is not a profession, but the cumulative work in the domain of heritage institutions, as a set of conjugate occupations, - might be. Together they make a convincing and impressive whole of occupations in the domain of public memory. We are probably witnesses of the formation of a mega profession of heritage workers. If that happens, that will bring the importance, social status and even stronger financial support for the profession. To achieve these consequences, the heritage professionals will have to be better sided, more socially conscious and engaged, and recognized as such in society. Without it, facing the crisis in which cultural sector often suffers, we shall have little arguments and abilities to defend our mission in society. So far, after more than hundred years of theoretical claims, museum workers have not achieved neither the status and recognition nor the full arguments for their mission in the modern society. A lot of divergent practices in training are still puzzling. Obligatory training for the practice will happen at the university level as complementary or specialist study. It will contain the science of heritage as common denominator and basis for the broad mind set of a future profession but will otherwise concentrate on specific practical issues in different institutions. We must understand and manage the developments that are already happening, like convergence of the public memory institutions, as well as figure out how can we serve the world in peril. (More on this theme, please find in the book “Mnemosophy – essay on the science of public memory”, freely available at this site)

PHOTO By PBA Lille - Archives du service documentation du Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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