Epilogue: Is Too Much Being Asked of Heritage?

The level of heritage demand most likely goes hand-in-hand with the cultural development level of a society. Visitors become more demanding with heritage presentation spaces and their discourses, asking for monumentality and precious value as well as entertainment, efficient communication, and sustainability. We do not believe it is inappropriate to increase the level of demand, but we do believe it is important to realize that this makes future efforts more complicated than what has been done until now.

A similar situation occurs with the development of the traditional museology, that is the basis of the descriptive model, to the new museology or critical museology, that has progressively inspired new explanatory, narrative, and discursive participatory models. We are well aware of the old museology and its descriptive discourse model. It was and is a coherent model. Many museums keep on operating on the basis of this model and are recognized by the society that enjoys and supports them. On the other hand, new or critical museology has been used to review and suggest new models that have managed to create new solutions (Gurian, 2006; Santacana & Hernandez, 2006; Simon, 2010). However, it is true that there has not always been a unanimous opinion on these proposals, without a sufficiently extended explicit agreement among professionals. Museology (without a qualifier), understood as a global view of heritage, has evolved into a more complex model in which the functions of museums and heritage sites become diversified. It has not lost sight of the traditional functions of preserving and enhancing the tangible culture, but they give greater significance to the intangible. It has maintained the rigor of the discipline and also an interdisciplinary view on knowledge construction, with a necessary adaptation to its users and a real cultural, educational, social, community-oriented, and touristic function, in which economic sustainability is critical to its very survival.

This requirement and this awareness are essential because heritage has always been used by the powers that be to influence social attitudes. On the contrary, a more inclusive view of heritage may be required, where various interpretations are possible and difference predominates as a value (Acuff & Evans, 2014). Of the four models reviewed in this study, the participatory model may be closest to meeting this need. This model would be more responsive to memory without discriminations and would be more respectful toward different interpretations. It is, in other words, an inclusive model in which we all view ourselves and that we all consider essential to preserve.

In conclusion, heritage in situ or in museums is a privileged arena for being in contact with knowledge and with one’s history in an active and thoughtful manner. Heritage presentation spaces are reliable and attractive to citizens, and they are a powerful tool for developing knowledge, values, and identities. The panorama of heritage has been enriched by elaborate proposals through the re-signification of its own culture. Heritage has become the agora of history.

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