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As a small nation, the Isle of Man, in the middle of the Irish Sea between England and Ireland, has given priority in recent year to a re-valuation of its cultural and natural heritage as a platform for its community pride and international reputation. This project provides a perfect microcosm for study of this phenomenon in modern Europe, across the full range of cultural and natural heritage assets.
This has led to a strategy to link all its heritage sites throughout the island in a co-ordinated way providing added value to a heritage strategy. My organization, Manx National Heritage has undertaken a series of major heritage projects in recent years, emphasising the interaction between monuments, museums, historic landscape and the local and tourist communities. This has involved projects in castles conservation, exhibitions interpretation and display; development of large new museums and interpretation centres; development of a new strategy for linking monuments in the countryside context for the public.
We have won a number of prestigious international awards for this multi-site, interdisciplinary approach to heritage management, - 12 awards in the last 15 years - including the British Museum of the Year Award twice and a special award in the European Museum of the Year competition. A model for multi-site, interdisciplinary heritage management for defined territories of Europe has been created. This model in the Isle of Man has attracted international attention from many other European countries and has been recommended as “a model” by the Council of Europe’s “European Landscape Convention” committee. This model has been a vital factor in a new “national branding” strategy for economic and community benefit, linked to the promotion of a positive national identity.
My paper will review how a co-ordinated strategy for heritage promotion and management can result in a “revaluation” by the community of how it values its heritage assets. It will examine how this “new value” be expressed in both local community results, and added value at the international level.
The paper will conclude that a co-ordinated community revaluation of its heritage is of great value both locally and internationally in establishing the basis of added community stability and economic stimulus, while preserving the integrity of national or local identity as a positive aspect of “added value” for the future.