Contemporary Art in the Heritage Experience

Contemporary Art in the Heritage Experience is a two day conference delivered as a critical part of the Mapping Contemporary Art in the Heritage Experience project.

In recent decades, contemporary art commissioning has become a key aspect of heritage site programming with national organisations and individual sites investing in artists as a way of developing new opportunities for public engagement with heritage.

For many artists, temporary commissions for heritage properties is an increasingly important strand of their practice. Yet despite significant developments, and organisational support from the arts and heritage sectors, there is little understanding of the contemporary arts in heritage field.

This conference provides a platform to discuss the broader character of contemporary art in heritage and the impact of such projects on their producers and audiences, sharing knowledge of this practice across the sector for those engaged in or wishing to develop this area of practice.

The conference will focus on the key themes of Creation and Encounters. The conference programme features presentations from artists, curators, heritage organisations and academic researchers who submitted papers through an open call earlier this year, alongside panel discussions and keynote presentations from leading practitioners within the field.

The programme also includes an opportunity to visit a new exhibition Out of Place at Newcastle’s Hatton Gallery and a new commission by Marcus Coates for National Trust Cherryburn, located just outside the city in rural Northumberland.


Keynote speakers include:

  • John Orna-Ornstein, Director of Culture and Engagement at the National Trust
  • Jenny Waldman, Director of 14-18 NOW, WW1 Centenary Arts Commissions

Presentations also from:

  • Tim Eastop, Executive Producer of Arts on the Waterways, a national contemporary arts programme for the Canal & River Trust supported by Arts Council England and the Arts Council of Wales
  • Sandy Nairne, a writer and curator based in London, and until 2015 was Director of the National Portrait Gallery

Booking details

Organisations / salaried £250

Freelancers / students £100

Rates are for the full two days and include lunches, teas and coffees and the evening exhibition event at the Hatton Gallery on 29 July. Additional fees apply for the conference dinner (on 29 July), the Cherryburn visit and networking breakfast (on 31 July).

Please book your place here.

Conference dinner

Delegates are invited to a conference dinner on the evening of 29 July. Tickets are £25 and can be purchased as part of your registration.


Newcastle University
Newcastle upon Tyne

Further information

For more details, please follow updates on the project website and follow us on Twitter: @mcahe_NU

About the project

Mapping Contemporary Art in the Heritage Experience (MCAHE) is a collaborative research project between Newcastle University and the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds.

This three-year research project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and delivered in collaboration with UK heritage partners The National Trust, English Heritage, Arts & Heritage, The Churches Conservation Trust, the Contemporary Visual Art Network and Arts Council England.

The project includes four commissions by award-winning UK artists, Fiona Curran, Mark Fairnington, Matt Stokes and Andrew Burton and two works commissioned in collaboration with partners by Susan Philipsz and Marcus Coates.

Image shows Fiona Curran's work at Gibside, entitled Your Sweetest Empire is to Please. Courtesy Colin Davison Photography.