The funding, awarded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will finance new Centres, including the Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage and Archaeology (SEAHA).
The centre is a collaboration run jointly by three universities, led by UCL, with the universities of Oxford and Brighton, which will pioneer a new work model to nurture at least 60 heritage scientists and engineers, for possible career paths in heritage, industry and policy.
Professor David Arnold, the University of Brighton’s Director of Research Initiatives and Co-Director of the new Centre, said: “It’s an exciting time to be in heritage science. With around 50,000 museums and galleries globally and even more archaeological sites and historic buildings, there is a demand for well-prepared, enterprising heritage scientists, analysing, preserving and restoring the fabric of our cultural heritage.
“Heritage scientists traditionally have been employed in universities and in cultural institutions but the new Centre will also equip them for opportunities, not only to work in industry but to be entrepreneurs.”
Professor Arnold said “The Centre is designed to kick start a community of heritage scientists in line with Brighton’s reputation as a melting pot for establishing creative and cultural enterprises. The student’s development will be integral to the Centre’s training approach, whilst they contribute new knowledge to heritage science.”
SEAHA graduates will be pioneering experts, equipped with a broad understanding of the sectors in which they may choose to work, and perfectly placed to shape the future of heritage science in the UK, and globally.
Barney Sloane, Head of Strategic Planning and Management at English Heritage, said: “SEAHA will provide students with advanced scientific, engineering and transferable skills and expertise vital to the future conservation of our heritage and make them eminently attractive to future employers.”
Over 45 organisations have already committed to working in partnership with the SEAHA. These include galleries such as Tate; eminent museums such as the Natural History Museum in London, and industry represented by companies such as Leica Geosystems and research and training institutions such as the National Physical Laboratory.
As a result of these partnerships, the Centre is offering tripartite supervision which means that students benefit from the support of cultural institutions and industry in addition to academic supervision. This brings students and their research as close to the challenges as possible and means that their exposure, networks and work opportunities are tripled.
SEAHA will “recruit graduates with an aptitude for and understanding of science or engineering that they can apply to the arts, heritage and archaeology sectors to advance knowledge in heritage science that underpins understanding and protection of cultural heritage”. It will train at least 60 doctoral students over a period of eight years, making it EPSRC’s single largest investment to date in heritage science and engineering research.