Global Heritage: Science, Management and Development

We are leading the way in heritage research. The diverse topic connects science and technology with a range of areas including: archaeology, art history, literature, social sciences, art and design.


The Global Heritage Strategic Research Theme at Nottingham Trent University focuses on putting science and technology at the heart of Heritage Research. From tools that can monitor deterioration to methods for conservation, we are leading the way and broadening the scope of research within the subject areas of Art, Architecture, Design, Science and History.

To find out more information about the Global Heritage research impact here at NTU; including Impact Case Studies and information on our current Groups and Centres, please visit our Research page.

Research Activity

Smart Preservation of Architectural and Urban Heritage (SPAUH) this research group uses technology to document human engagement with urban heritage, material culture and the built environment. The current research has introduced new virtual heritage technologies and policy making into several developing countries, and has also developed digital scanning and light detection systems.

Textile Heritage: Art, Design and Conservation is divided into two distinct areas:

  • Art and Design conservation (contemporary and historic objects) - we combine art and science to generate new methods to understand and preserve cultural heritage.
  • Post-industrial heritage archives (digitisation/ 3-D visualisation of regional manufacturers) - NTU uses participative design, 3D modelling and animation to investigate production skills and understand textile production processes.

Science for Heritage, Art and the Humanities demonstrates how we can use science as an effective tool for heritage research. The research team works together to:

  • develop non-invasive advanced imaging and spectroscopic techniques
  • apply science to boost our understanding in history, archaeology, conservation treatment and management
  • use science to inspire the creative arts.

The History and Heritage Management Group (HHM) based in the School of Arts & Humanities, apply memory theories and applied learning theory to visitor behaviour museums environment. Over the last twenty years, museums have shifted from collections-focused to audience-centred organisations. We're helping to transform museums and the communication of heritage. Their findings influence the development of displays, activities and events that encourage learning.

Imaging & Sensing for Archaeology, Art History and Conservation (ISAAC) has also created unique imaging and sensing instruments for in situ non-invasive examination. Facilities for ISAAC mobile lab: Spectral imaging systems, 3D topographic imaging techniques, Optical Coherence Tomography systems and Automated microfade spectrometry.

Researchers in the Sustainable Heritage and Society Research Group help inform the sustainable practice of heritage management and conservation to boost the quality of the built environment. The group focuses on advancing the New Urban Agenda by safeguarding our cultural heritage and achieving sustainable economic development. Research focuses on:

  • Cultural Tourism and the economics of conservation (heritage management focus)
  • Smart cities, decision support systems and the heritage sector (governance focus)
  • Participatory planning in conservation areas (design focus)
  • Cultural Identity and multicultural cities dialogue (governance focus)


We work with partners and collaborators on shared interests and projects that ensure innovation, applications and new solutions. We partner with governments, local authorities and national institutions to offer informed research-led policies, best practices guidelines and decision making procedures.

Our research partners

  • The British Museums (UK)
  • Louvre Museum
  • C2RMF (France)
  • The National Gallery (London)
  • Victoria and Albert Museum (UK)
  • English Heritage
  • Historic England
  • The National Trust
  • Science Museum
  • National History Museum
  • National Justice Museum
  • University of California at Berkeley
  • Ironbridge International Institute of Cultural Heritage
  • University of Birmingham (UK)
  • Nottingham Castle Museum
  • Birmingham Museum and Gallery
  • East Midlands Museums Service
  • University of Leeds
  • Museum of London
  • National Maritime Museum
  • Historic Royal Palaces
  • National Museum of Ireland
  • LRMH (France)
  • Shaan Xi History Museum
  • Palace Museum (Beijing)
  • Dunhuang Academy (China)
  • Getty Conservation Institution
  • Brooklyn Museum (USA)
  • International Institute of Conservation (IIC)
  • ICOMOS etc.

Governmental departments, including:

  • The Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government
  • Ministry of Antiquities (Egypt)
  • Nottingham City Council
  • Ministry of Justice of the Province of British Columbia Canada
  • Regione Campania (Italy)
  • UN-Habitat
  • NASA
  • World Bank

Research Councils, including:

  • Research Councils UK (RCUK)
  • Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
  • The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
  • Royal Society
  • Leverhulme Trust
  • Arts Council England
  • European Commission
  • Nottingham Castle Trust
  • Heritage Lottery Fund
  • World Monument Fund
  • World Bank

Related Projects

  • Developing Creative Modes of Recording and Visualising Medieval Culture in the Middle East

    The digitisation of heritage has become central for the preservation of national identity and cultural heritage whilst engaging with and impacting on marginalised communities. Virtual environments for cultural heritage offer the possibility of interacting with reconstructed historic sites as visitors, tourists, and researchers, raising awareness and encouraging different societal groups to engage with their heritage. Read More...

  • Remote Spectral Imaging at the UNESCO World Heritage Site

    The Mogao Caves, near Dunhuang, form many Buddhist temples along the ancient Silk Road. They have a history that extends over 1,000 years and are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 45,000 square metres of wall paintings in nearly 500 caves are an immense resource for the study of the history of art, architecture, religion, technology, politics and cultural exchange.

    Nottingham Trent University’s Imaging & Sensing for Archaeology, Art history & Conservation Lab is at the forefront of research in the development of advanced optical instruments. A project funded by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) led to the development of a portable remote multi-spectral and hyper-spectral imaging system (PRISMS). Read More...

  • Revealing the Past Without Damaging it: Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) for Heritage Science

    Looking deeper into the surface of a painted work of art can give us fascinating clues into its history. However, analysing the substructure of paintings without damaging them is a challenge – and often banned by conservation ethics. Using fast scanning techniques stretching back to the late 19th Century, Professor Haida Liang has pioneered a technique that allows us to see into the surface without needing to take samples.

    Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is an imaging method, capable of non-invasive 3D imaging of subsurface microstructure, Professor Liang saw the potential of OCT technology to examine subsurface microstructures of art works without damaging them. Read More...

  • Saving Lifta: Shared Palestinian and Israeli Heritage at Risk

    Lifta is one of the last remnants of the Palestinian villages that were abandoned in 1948, during the war that created the state of Israel. Despite Lifta being declared a natural reserve in July 2017, the Israeli government is planning to push through a property development of 200 luxury houses, mainly destined for American millionaires.

    The Save Lifta Coalition has recently brought the case to international attention after campaigning to include Lifta in the 2018 World Monuments Watch, which lists the 100 most endangered sites in the world. The conservation option has great social benefits in this case, which is a high-profile example of how investing in conservation might help the peace-building process in one of the most contested and politically unstable regions in the world. Read More...

  • Testing the light sensitivity of artworks using a portable microfade spectrometer

    Museums struggle to balance the need to protect artworks that are light-sensitive with the desire to give visitors the best experience possible. Microfading was developed in the 1990s for efficiently detecting extremely light-sensitive materials on objects in situ, to help better determine the appropriate exhibition lighting conditions.

    We have been developing automated, portable and easy-to-assemble microfade spectrometers that are capable of high-precision fading measurements. It is said that using the results of microfading for accelerated light aging tests can save museums over £1 million a year. Read More...

  • Virtual Reconstruction of Nottingham Castle: Digital Archive for Sustainable Management and Planning in Heritage Buildings with Community Access

    Nottingham Castle perched above the plane on the sandstone outcrop is a site comprising of Scheduled Monument containing a number of listed components of which the Ducal Palace at Grade 1 is the largest structure.

    The Castle is currently undergoing a major refurbishment and development to enable future sustainable use. However, much of the building history, layered structures of different ages, medieval and 19th century additions, have neither been recorded, analyzed nor digitally reconstructed.

    The Virtual Reconstruction of Nottingham Castle Project aims to develop a virtual resource charting the building historic evolution using archival material, records and laser scanning surveys of the building and its structure to enable accurate digital models of the building history. Read More...

  • Empowering the Local Dark Sky Agenda: Exploring Opportunities when Linking Scientific Research, Sky Survey Data Gathering and Cultural Heritage

    This project links scientific research on contemporary light pollution surveys with cultural astronomy of prehistoric societies. This work will be embedded within local communities of the Mondego valley in central Portugal and support their Dark Sky agenda.

    The project builds upon already developed research by both D Brown and F Silva on passage graves and their ability to support watching the first appearance of stars in the early morning skies by neolithic people 6000 years ago. This has recently led to the development of portable sky sensors to survey the light pollution. Read More...

  • Renegotiating the Narrative in Global Design Histories

    In this research group, we are investigating what it means for those commonly thought of as ‘other’ to be within a context both local and international. How does it feel to know one is peripheral but also central? How do we know when we are, and how can we see it in the everyday? How do we claim back agency when we live in the shadow of the international?

    This research intends to address other concerns not yet explored, of centrality, periphery, conflict, subversion, and dialogue with the hegemony of patriarchal, often Western, modernisation. Read More...

  • Pits, Props, and Prose: A literary Celebration of the Coalfields of the East Midlands

    The coal industry has a long and proud association with literature and the arts, and this project aims to celebrate how the coal industry in the East Midlands has been and can be reflected in the literary world. It will do this by engaging with existing pit poetry, song and literature and by encouraging creative writing and song writing related to the industry.

    This project offers an opportunity to do something different by focusing on the intangible aspects of local mining heritage. No other projects have looked at language specifically, or used heritage in this way to examine culture. Read More...

  • From Myth to Majesty: A Historiographical Exploration of Fifteenth-Century British Royal Genealogies from the ‘Noah’ Tradition

    The Canterbury Roll is a 5m long genealogical scroll written in Latin in 15th century England dating from Henry VI’s reign. During the Wars of the Roses, a large number of such genealogies were produced, but this Roll is one of only 12 in which the royal line starts with Noah, most of which are housed in British collections.

    Using a combination of scientific and historical techniques, this project deepens our understanding of the relationship between genealogy, religion, history, heritage and society.  Read More...

  • Digital Archive for Sustainable Management and Planning in Heritage Buildings with Community Access

    The aim of this project is to investigate if smartphone technologies can be utilised to determine an accurate estimation of deformations in heritage structures, specifically bridges.

    The project focus is on structural identification of heritage structures using a holistic approach. Once the deformations of the structure exceed the derived baseline conditions, the integrity of the structure is at risk or unknown loads are applied. For example, movements of elements (features) such as bolts in cast iron bridges can be estimated when analysing consecutive images of structures subjected to loadings such as ambient temperature. Read More...

  • Postcolonial Ecologies at Con Son Island

    Focusing on the site of former colonial French prison, Con Son Island in Vietnam, the project explores the relationship between natural and human heritage and the difficult juxtapositions posed.

    The aim of the project is to consider how tourism and heritage initiatives developed on Con Son might establish meaningful links between different visitor practices and agendas, which commit both international visitors and local communities to the use and development of the site. Read More...

  • Genetic Rescue of the Original Bramley Apple Tree through Whole Genome Sequencing

    Bramley apple trees are unique and have a very important heritage. The original Bramley tree in Southwell was grown by Mary Anne Brailsford in 1809. It is still alive and bearing fruit at over 200 years old. Unfortunately, the original Bramley tree is now suffering with honey fungus and will soon inevitably perish.

    In this project, we will complete Bramley tree genomic DNA sequencing and mapping with a reference genome. We will use bioinformatics tools and platforms to generate useful and relevant genetic information for identification and validation of genetics/traits. There is a great deal of media attention surrounding the Bramley tree and this project will stimulate further interest. Read More...

  • Developing Interactive Online Virtual Heritage Platform (CAVE) for Endangered Heritage Sites of the Middle East

    Due to sustained risks to archaeological and heritage sites in the Middle East, there has been increasing international efforts to implement sustainable strategies for the documentation, recording and conservation of archaeological sites using innovative digital technologies and archives.

    The project is a response to an urgent need to document and diagnose existing condition using latest Virtual Heritage Technologies to produce engaging environments for public users, diagnostic analysis for conservation and recovery models for heritage sites subject to risk of destruction or severe deterioration. Read More...

  • A strategic development of Science for Heritage, Art & the Humanities research at NTU

    The recent establishment of European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science (E-RIHS) on the European Roadmap is a boost to the research in heritage science. E-RIHS will bring together heritage science experts to support research on heritage interpretation, preservation, documentation and management.

    The aims of this proposal are

    • To strengthen and broaden the scope of Science for Heritage, Art & the Humanities research through new collaborations.
    • To prepare and raise the profile of NTU as a provider for European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science.
    • To enrich the impact linked to the Global Heritage Research Theme from History to Science and Engineering.


  • An East Midlands Textile Heritage Network

    The School of Art & Design has been working with local museums and businesses in the heritage textile sector for 10 years, including;

    • Nottingham Castle Museum
    • Ruddington Framework Knitters’ Museum
    • G.H.Hurt & Son
    • Cluny Lace
    • John Smedley Ltd.

    This work builds on our important collection of lace and associated artefacts built up by the school since its foundation to provide lace designers to the local industry. The concept of the textile heritage network is simple - many individuals survive in the local community who worked in, or who were associated with the industry, the industry has shrunk massively but we have evidence that a significant demand exists in the community to understand, value and explore this heritage. Read More...

Related Staff

Mohamed Gamal Abdelmonem

Professor Abdelmonem is Chair in Architecture at the School of Architecture, Design and Built Environment and the University lead on the ‘Research Centre for Global Heritage: Sciences and Management, a cross-University and world-leading Research Centre that aims to engage with and lead strategic research projects with evident global impact on architectural, built and cultural heritage through innovative practices of conservation and preservation.

Professor Abdelmonem leads projects on the preservation of urban heritage, utilisation of advanced digital technologies for virtual heritage platforms, socio-spatial practice of urban environments, the architecture of home, spatial memory, politics of urban space in everyday life, Digital Urban Heritage, and the Pedagogy of Architectural Studio.

Haida Liang

Professor Liang is Head of the Imaging & Sensing for Archaeology, Art History & Conservation (ISAAC) research group. Her key teaching duties include: Module Leader for Year One Concepts of: Astronomy and Cosmology, Year Three Cosmology: Theory and Observation; teaching contributions to Year Two Stars & Galaxies, MSc Medical Imaging and MSc Materials and Security Imaging.

Professor Liang leads the Imaging & Sensing for Archaeology, Art history & Conservation (ISAAC) research group. Areas of research include the development of advanced optical imaging and spectroscopic instruments for non-invasive and non-destructive examination, applications of physics (particularly imaging and optics) to art conservation and archaeology, as well as astrophysics.

Graham Black

Responsibilities incorporate teaching, research and consultancy (in a private capacity). On the MA Museum and Heritage Management, Graham Black is responsible for the year-long module on Presentation Management, covering visitor studies, marketing and audience development, visitor services, learning and interpretation. He also supervises and marks MA theses and acts as Admissions Tutor for the course. His consultancy feeds through 'live' projects used in MA teaching. At undergraduate level, he contributes to core history modules at levels one and two.

Graham Black is currently exploring the issue of how best to evaluate history museums in the 21st century. This combines his commitments to visitor participation and inclusivity with his belief in the need for academic rigour. He is also an active member of the History and Heritage Research Group, and a member of the Research Committee for the Group.

Professor Black’s areas of research interest include the following; practical application of interpretive principles to develop environments at museum and heritage sites that support participation and learning and also a new research area looking at the making and presentation of history in museums.

Patrizia Riganti

Dr Riganti is a Senior Lecturer in Real Estate, School of Architecture and Built Environment, Nottingham Trent University. Dr Riganti’s research focuses on urban sustainable development and on the assessment of urban policies related to cultural heritage conservation, heritage management, cultural diversity and sustainable cultural tourism. She is a member of two ICOMOS International Scientific Committees: on Economics of Conservation and on Energy and Sustainable Development.

Tom Fisher

Professor Tom Fisher is Research Coordinator for the School of Art and Design, representing research on the School Executive Group. In this role he wrote and developed NTU's submission to REF Unit of Assessment D34, Art and Design, History, Theory and Practice, working across the college to include colleagues in the Sustainable Consumption and Product Design research groups.

He has led research funded by the AHRC and Defra, participating in work funded by WRAP. He is a member of the AHRC Peer Review College and reviews research bids for AHRC, ESRC and EPSRC. He is a member of the Design Research Society Council and leads the Special Interest Group OPEN (Objects, Practices, Experiences, Networks).

Professor Fisher's research is distinctive in its span of disciplines, building from his direct experience of craft practice through theory and methods from the human sciences - he has been published in Design History and Archaeology. His work in sustainable design means he works closely with the Sustainable Consumption Research Group. His background in craft practice has been a platform for a strong connection to the Digital Craft and Embodied Knowledge research group.

Amanda Briggs-Goode

As Head of Department for Fashion, Textiles and Knitwear Design, Professor Briggs-Goode is responsible for the management of the undergraduate and postgraduate courses. She supervises postgraduate students on the taught including PhDs for whom she acts as Director of Studies.

Leader for the Lace archive at Nottingham Trent University; Amanda has established a steering group which includes Clare Brown from the V & A and Johanna Hashagan from the Bowes Museum. This has enabled the archive's activities to focus on a national context and consider broader perspectives on how to interpret and manage the wider dissemination of the collection.

Amanda and colleagues have been successful in gaining funding to support the Archive both within the university and externally through the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Bill Niven's Digital Holocaust Exhibition

Bill Niven

Professor Niven teaches German history. In recent years, he has (co)organised symposia and conferences (also for postgraduates) on the relationship between culture, politics and memory in Germany and Europe. Professor Niven is committed to building up MA and PhD recruitment within the area of Holocaust and Genocide studies at NTU.

Professor Niven has a number of active research areas in which specialises in, these include national socialism, Hitler, memory of the Third Reich, the history and memory of East Germany, contemporary Germany, and also memorials and memorialisation in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Natalie Braber

Dr Braber teaches in the School of Arts and Humanities within the subject area of Linguistics. Her teaching responsibilities are mainly in the area of sociolinguistics, child language acquisition and psycholinguistics. She is Assistant Programme Leader on the Joint Honours Humanities Degree Programme and Programme Leader for the Linguistics MA (by research).

Dr Braber is currently working on several projects relating to these research interests. She is involved with projects examining language variation in the East Midlands, a highly under-researched subject. With the aid of several grants, Dr Braber is collecting data from around the East Midlands, examining language variation and studying the perception of variation within the area. This research includes work on 'pit talk' in the region. This variety of language, used by miners, is now disappearing and needs to be preserved for future generations.

News & Events

  • May 2017

    Legacies of the Holocaust: Online Exhibition about Memory of the Holocaust

    Museums and memorial centres present the history of the Holocaust to audiences worldwide, but not the history of Holocaust memory. Professor Niven has created an online exhibition to fill this gap. The research that informed Legacies of the Holocaust provides a thematic overview of the way in which film, literature, testimony, museums and memorials have responded to the challenge of Holocaust memory.

    Integrating this exhibition into the “museumscapes” of the National Holocaust Centre and Museum, will sensitise young people and adults to the need to find appropriate ways of remembering and applying the lessons of the Holocaust.

  • October 2017

    Rising to the Challenge; Preparing Museums for the Age of Participation

    Many museums started as enlightenment institutions focused on their collections. But in today’s global society, audiences expect a lot more. Museums need to engage their visitors and respond to changes in society quickly to guarantee a sustainable future. Museums are no longer arbitrary gatekeepers, as visitors expect a more exciting experience.

    Furthermore, changing demographics, new media, and increasing globalisation have created new challenges for the sector. Professor Black states that many museums require root and branch transformation if they are to survive; being regularly asked to share his expertise at museums across the world and help them tackle the unique challenges they face.

  • November 2017

    Linguistics Lecturer Begins Project to Preserve Mining Heritage through Art

    Linguistics lecturer in the School of Arts and Humanities, Natalie Braber, has secured support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, made possible by people who play the National Lottery, to celebrate and protect coal mining heritage in north Nottinghamshire.

    Since the close of the coal mines, the distinctive spoil heaps are beginning to be redeveloped, leaving no visual reminder of the industry which contributed so much to the local area. Similarly, ‘pit talk’, the unique language used by miners, is being forgotten. If not preserved, ‘pit talk’ as a language could be lost within a generation. The project, to be run in partnership with Kidology Arts, aims to conserve the heritage of the miners and engage the community in celebrating their local language and landscape. Over the next year, the team will work with school children and mining heritage groups to create visual and sound art surrounding the important history of former coal mine areas.

  • February 2018

    Nottingham Trent University Host International Seminar on Preserving Iraq's Post-War Architectural Heritage

    In February, the Centre for Architecture, Urbanism and Global Heritage hosted the International Seminar, “Preserving Architectural and Urban Heritage of Post-War Iraq” at Nottingham Conference Centre. The seminar was organised under the Global Heritage Research Theme, with the support of His Excellency, Dr Hayder Al Abadi, the Prime Minister of Iraq, and in partnership with and co-sponsorship of Iraq’s Prime Minister Office and the Iraqi Embassy in London.

    The day began with an opening session led by Professor Barnett and His Excellency, Nazar Mirjan, the Deputy Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq to the United Kingdom. NTU were also pleased to welcome high profile Iraqi delegates The Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister, Professor Sabah Mushatat, and the Iraqi Cultural Attaché in London, Prof. Nahi Al-Rikabi. The delegates discussed ways in which the collaboration could support the Iraqi government’s efforts toward sustainable prevention of the country’s rich urban heritage.

  • March 2018

    Out of this World: Taiwan's Cultural Heritage - Pragmatism and Politics

    Delivered by Professor Mike Robinson, Professor of Cultural Heritage and Director of the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage, University of Birmingham; this lecture focuses on the ways in which Taiwan has negotiated its own heritage outside of the UNESCO World Heritage 'family', and what this tells us about the complexities of heritage production.

    This lecture is delivered in partnership with AUGH and Global Heritage Research Theme at Nottingham Trent University (NTU), and forms part of their 2017/18 seminar series. AUGH focuses on the investigation of human aspects of architecture, spatial practices, urban heritage, material culture and the built environment within the ever-changing urban and social structures of contemporary cities forcing new territories of interaction, innovation, creativity and analysis.

    Booking deadline: Tuesday 20 March 2018, 10.00 am

    Arts and Humanities Associate Professor Leads Museum Project to Mark the 50th Anniversary of Northern Ireland Protests in 1968

    Associate Professor in the School of Arts and Humanities, Dr Chris Reynolds, has been working on a long-term collaboration with Belfast’s Ulster Museum, which focuses on Northern Ireland’s 1968. As we reach the 50th anniversary of this period, the project will signal further discussion and activities, with an upcoming research seminar at Nottingham Trent University taking place on the 15th June and a conference planned for later this year.

    The ongoing project uses academic research and museum practice to record and archive the voices of those involved in this period of national and international revolt. Interview material from those who were present during the time has been made into a series of extended videos, which are publicly available for those wishing to further explore the events of Northern Ireland’s 1968. This year marks an important year for the project and will provide the platform for a long-term working relationship between Nottingham Trent University and the Ulster Museum. There has been interest from bodies in the USA, Paris and UK to host the travelling exhibition, including NTU.

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