In honor of National Historic Preservation Month, the West Virginia Humanities Council is bringing Sir Neil Cossons, distinguished historian, museum director and former chairman of English Heritage, to West Virginia University for a public lecture entitled, “A Future for the Past: Preserving the Past as an Asset for the Future,” on May 8, 7 p.m. at The Erickson Alumni Center. The program is free and the public is cordially invited to attend.

Cossons will discuss the philosophy and processes for historic preservation in England. He will examine what is preserved, why and how, and consider new uses for historic buildings. He will also share examples of how communities can use historic places as the framework for creating the future in England and other countries.

Cossons was knighted in 1994 for his work with museums and historic preservation and has advised governments, museums and preservation organizations in several countries. He was the first director of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum, a World Heritage site in Shropshire encompassing 10 museums collectively telling the story of the Industrial Revolution, as well as director of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. He has worked on a number of World Heritage nominations and served as chairman of English Heritage, the advisory body to the government of the United Kingdom overseeing the historic environment of England, from Stonehenge to manor houses.

His visit to West Virginia was facilitated by his friend and colleague, Dr. Emory Kemp, founder of the Institute for the History of Technology and Industrial Archaeology at WVU and former chair of the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Cossons will make two other stops in the state – one on May 7 at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Charles Town and the other on May 9 at West Virginia Independence Hall in Wheeling.

Support for “A Future for the Past: Preserving the Past as an Asset for the Future” is provided by West Virginia University, the Elizabeth Stifel Kline Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Ogden Nutting, Jefferson Distributing, John Allen, Jr., the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the Bavarian Inn.

The Humanities Council also thanks Dr. Emory Kemp, the Honorable David H. Sanders, the Arts and Humanities Alliance of Jefferson County, the Harpers Ferry Historical Association, the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, the Shepherd University Historic Preservation Program and the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation.

For more information, contact the West Virginia Humanities Council at 304-346-8500.



CONTACT: University Relations/News


Mark Payne, West Virginia Humanities Council

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