Determining Significance

Image: Katie Hayne and Ursula Frederick

A one-day symposium, Friday 15 May 9–5pm

Ann Harding Conference Centre, Building 24, University of Canberra
Parking and map 

(in)significance: a discussion about values and valuing in heritage

Conveners: Tracy Ireland and Steve Brown

The notion of ‘significance’ is a central concept for heritage conservation in many parts of the world it describes what the institutions of heritage choose to remember and what they choose to forget. Used in American historic preservation legislation from the late 19th century, and in the 1964 Venice Charter, in Australia the Burra Charter (Australia ICOMOS 1979) introduced the phrase ‘places of cultural significance’, a concept that emphasised meanings over monuments.

Determining significance is a process of ascribing values – culturally constructed meanings or qualities attributed by individuals and groups to a heritage object, place or landscape. Valuing heritage has led to practices that typically list, rank and then privilege particular values – at world, national and local levels.

At the symposium we hope to explore the history, theory and practical application of the concept of significance and broach the idea of insignificance.

This one-day symposium will comprise short presentations and themed panel discussions, with ample opportunities for participation and debate. Many of Australia’s leading heritage researchers, teachers and practitioners will participate from diverse fields including museums, libraries and archives, archaeology, digital humanities, conservation and heritage studies. The symposium will appeal to those with an interest in critical heritage studies and reflective heritage practice and is also recommended for postgraduate students.


Full-fee: $50 (incl GST)
Full-time students: $20 (incl GST)


For more information please contact: [email protected]