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8 février 2014 6 08 /02 /février /2014 11:09

Je viens de retrouver, dans mes archives sur l'écomusée du Creusot-Montceau, la copie d'une courte note rédigée par Kenneth Hudson en 1973, pour préparer un séminaire qui devait se tenir, probablement en 1974, à Horsens, au Danemark, sur le patrimoine industriel, que l'on appelait alors "archéologie industrielle". K. Hudson était un observateur passioné et très critique des musées et du patrimoine, notamment industriel. Il a créé le Prix européen du musée de l'année et ses articles sur les écomusées font date.

Voici l'intégralité de cette note, que je laisse volontairement en anglais. Elle correspond exactement à la doctrine que nous avons tenté d'appliquer au Creusot dans les années 1970, avec l'aide de Christian Devillers. Il est intéressant de la relire aujourdhui, au moment où l'association de l'écomusée va revoir dans quelques jours ses statuts, ses objectifs et proposer de nouvelles actions au service de la communauté, de son territoire et de son patrimoine.

 

EUROPE'S OLD FACTORIES, MACHINES AND CANALS: MONUMENTS TO WHOM ?

Summary of contribution by Kenneth Hudson

 

A. The criteria for preserving buildings and structures include some or all of the following (not in order of priority) .
1.. Architectural distinction
2.    Importance as a technical achievement
3.. Social significance
4. Potential for adaptation to other purposes
5.. Cost of restoration and maintenance
6.  Educational or instructional value
7.  Tourist possibilities

 

These criteria are to be illustrated and discussed by five case-studies.
(a)  France - Salt works at Arc-et-Senans
(b) Belgium - Mine workshops at Le Grand Hornu
(c) German Federal Republic - Machinery hall and other mine-buildings at Dortmund-Bövinghausen
(d)  Great Britain  - Railway workers ' housing at Swindon
(e)  Netherlands - Windmills at Kinderdijk

 

B. It is essential, in my view, that, if one proposes to spend public money on the conservation of monuments of industry, transport, or any other form of technology, one should be in a position to set out clearly one's justification for the expenditure. This will involve explaining in what ways these old buildings and installations are relevant, not merely to the research of experts and specialists, but to the lives and interests of ordinary people (who also happen to pay taxes and to have political votes). Whose monuments, in fact, are they? If the question is put in this form, and if an honest attempt is made to answer it, we are likely to find ourselves faced with some curious consequences. We may have to decide, for instance, that it is largely meaningless to talk of "technological change" and that what we really have in mind is something much more concrete and human, the use of new equipment, new tools, new materials and new techniques by individual people, as part of the business of earning a living. The workers who learnt, often slowly and with considerable difficulty, the new skills and attitudes required of them are an essential element in what we are accustomed to label, far too glibly, "technology" and "technological change". It is like writing the history of food and cooking without making any reference to the habits and incomes of the people who ate and prepared the food.

C. Consequently, if we decide to preserve, or, more probably, to do no more than to record, a particular factory or mine or mill, we are, I believe, committed to find out as much as we can about the people who built it, with their own hands, and who worked in it. It is their monument, just as much as it is the monument of the architects, engineers, financiers and owners connected with it. It has to be thought of in this total, democratic way if it is to become part of the cultural heritage of a whole nation. Exactly the same could, and should, be said of castles, cathedrals, great houses and the other traditionally fashionable and cherished types of monument.

 

D. If we are planning a survey of technological or industrial monuments, our planning must include both the human and the physical dimensions of the monument. It is not sufficient to take photographs, make drawings, write down details of machinery. We - and "we" means local people as well as visiting experts - should, at the same time, collect the reminiscences of old workers, find out all we can about housing, standards of living, attitudes to work. If we do not adopt this polyclinical approach, we shall not ask the right questions of the archaeological material and we shall deprive ourselves of the material we need to give the monument a democratic base and to attract as many people as possible to come and see it. The failure to construct a democratic base is, it seems to me, to be guilty of behaviour which is both deeply immoral and professionally stupid.


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