Aims and objectives

Our project has three main objectives:

  1. To map the trajectory of contemporary visual art in heritage sites in the UK.
  2. To understand how artists engage with the heritage context in the creation of contemporary art for heritage properties.
  3. To analyse how contemporary artworks commissioned for these contexts are received and consumed by heritage property visitors.

Research themes

To meet these objectives, the research project addresses a series of research questions gathered under three key themes: Creation; Consumption; Exchange.


  • How do artists engage with heritage contexts and narratives within the creation of commissioned artworks?
  • What are the conceptual and practical challenges of creating site-specific works for a heritage property context?
  • Do such commissions generate new creative approaches and artistic strategies that might impact on artists’ future practice?


  • How, and to what extent, does contemporary art add to the audience experience of heritage and what potential benefit does it bring for the host organization, the property staff and volunteers?
  • How does the encounter with artwork in a heritage context impact on audience and staff appreciation of, and interest in, contemporary visual art more broadly?


  • What is the current landscape of contemporary arts in heritage practice in the UK and how might knowledge of this practice be mapped and shared across interested communities in the arts and heritage sector?
  • What are the criteria for evaluating the contemporary art and heritage experience from a producer and audience perspective?
  • What are the key issues or barriers for commissioners, artists and audiences engaged in or wishing to develop this area of practice?