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Size matters : seeing the values in large technology heritage

Wain, Leonie Alison

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Large technology heritage objects are impressive, exciting and fascinating. They can also be difficult, dangerous and expensive. When working with large technology objects every project demands more resources, every triumph is more newsworthy and every mistake is more visible. With large technology objects “getting it right” is vital. This thesis explores what “getting it right” means in both affective and practical terms, and for both producers of, and visitors to, large technology...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorWain, Leonie Alison
dc.date.accessioned2014-06-25T06:08:58Z
dc.date.available2014-06-25T06:08:58Z
dc.identifier.otherb31209488
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/11772
dc.description.abstractLarge technology heritage objects are impressive, exciting and fascinating. They can also be difficult, dangerous and expensive. When working with large technology objects every project demands more resources, every triumph is more newsworthy and every mistake is more visible. With large technology objects “getting it right” is vital. This thesis explores what “getting it right” means in both affective and practical terms, and for both producers of, and visitors to, large technology heritage displays. During 2008-9 over 80 producers and 368 visitors were interviewed at seven heritage sites and, for comparison, one non-heritage site within Australia. These interviews were analysed both qualitatively and quantitatively to examine people’s attitudes to large technology heritage, and to understand the major influences that form, maintain and change such attitudes. The thesis also examines methods of interpreting and displaying large technology objects, as well as the impact of heritage industry standards on the preservation, restoration and management of large technology heritage. The results of the study indicate that, while the practical challenges of giving big, old machines a new life as heritage are formidable, it is the values that different people see in such objects that are the source of the greatest difficulties. Producers of large technology heritage come from different backgrounds and communities of practice, and they see different values in the objects and look to different practical ways to enhance those values. Unfortunately they do not always understand, or value, each other’s values, which can lead to bitter disputes over which is the right way to do things. They also do not always understand the values that their visitors see in the objects, or recognise that display methods that are welcoming and engaging for their visitors may be very different from the ways in which they themselves expect to see large technology objects presented. The major finding of this study, therefore, is that an emphasis on developing technical methods of preserving, restoring and interpreting large technology heritage is doomed to failure unless it is combined with an equally strong emphasis on developing methods to draw out and reconcile the different values that people see in that heritage. Different practical methods of preserving, restoring and interpreting large technology objects are not “right” or “wrong” in themselves, but they do have the effect of enhancing some values and reducing or destroying others. Unless everyone involved in the project agrees on the values that practical treatments should enhance, there will be no consensus about the success of those treatments. The findings of this study have important implications for research and practice in large technology heritage. In particular, research is needed into the social impacts of large technology heritage, and into ways of incorporating values effectively into the practice of caring for large technology heritage. Such research, and concomitant changes in practice, will contribute significantly to the success and sustainability of large technology projects, and to the survival of these fabulous objects for the future.
dc.language.isoen_AU
dc.subjectlarge technology heritage
dc.subjectconservation
dc.subjectsignificance
dc.subjectvalues
dc.subjectindustrial heritage
dc.subjectengineering heritage
dc.subjectbig stuff
dc.subjectmachinery
dc.titleSize matters : seeing the values in large technology heritage
dc.typeThesis (PhD)
local.contributor.supervisorPickering, Paul
local.contributor.supervisorcontactpaul.pickering@anu.edu.au
dcterms.valid2012
local.description.notesSupervisor: Paul Pickering, Supervisor's Email Address: paul.pickering@anu.edu.au
local.description.refereedYes
local.type.degreeDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)
dc.date.issued2012
local.contributor.affiliationResearch School of Humanities and the Arts
local.identifier.doi10.25911/5d7393c776414
local.mintdoimint
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