Accessibility statement

Harald Fredheim
Lecturer in Museum Studies



Harald is a trained objects conservator and archaeologist whose research on how pasts are used and constructed in the present spans collections, buildings and landscapes. His work is centred around museums, heritage and archaeology, with a particular focus on public participation and engagement – both in-person and online. Since completing his PhD on participatory approaches to caring for heritage places, he has worked on research projects exploring contemporary collecting and disposal in museums, how to care for heritage buildings in landscapes undergoing unavoidable change and how to understand and evaluate public benefit from development-led archaeology. Harald is currently working in collaboration with museums across the North of England to deliver teaching and research that engages with the realities of practice, while addressing some of the most pressing current social issues.

Harald tweets as @haraldfred



In my research, I work to trace connections between theory and practice - how we think about museums, heritage and archaeology and how that relates to how go about our work in these fields. I am particularly interested in public facing and participatory work and most of my research is collaborative and participatory. In general, I am more interested in people than things and the present and future than the past. While I am an archaeologist, my research is primarily about how things are used in the present and how heritage organisations work with and for people. A current list of my publications is available on my Google Scholar page.

I use heritage as a conduit to pursue ambitiously interdisciplinary research that engages with current social issues. In my PhD research, this involved developing a qualitative multi-method approach that mobilises action research, digital co-design, autoethnography and critical discourse analysis and engaging with scholarship from fields such as democratic theory, user experience design, development studies, science communication and participatory planning. Drawing on my collaborative work with community heritage groups in Yorkshire and analyses of established community heritage programmes, I used this theoretical foundation to argue that sustaining public involvement in caring for heritage requires foregrounding participants’ skills and interests and designing participatory projects with their benefit in mind. While this may sound like common sense, my research suggests that most participatory heritage projects centre institutional needs, position participants as beneficiaries and do not prioritise understanding participants’ experiences or reasons for non-participation. These findings corroborate recent research in the cultural sector that calls for non-participation research, instead of perpetuating deficit models that assume non-participating publics simply have the wrong attitudes and values.

In addition to my interests in participatory approaches, I research heritage values and try to understand why things, places and practices are important to people in different ways. I’m particularly interested in understanding how these perceptions change and are impacted by change. As a result, I like to think of heritage as a process of recycling and am interested in how heritage and museums connect with issues relating to sustainability and change.

Available PhD research projects

I welcome applications from prospective PhD candidates with interests in the roles heritage, museums and archaeology play in society – and in particular from those who would like to pursue research relating to the following topics:

  • public (non-)participation and engagement
  • heritage values and significance
  • heritage and museums in relationship to sustainability and change
  • contemporary collecting and the transfer, disposal and re-use of museum collections
  • heritage policy and practice
  • public archaeology


I am currently supporting:

  • Ashley Fisher (with Dr Sara Perry)
  • Marie Woods (with Dr Jim Leary)
  • Diana Unterhitzenberger (with Professor John Schofield)
  • Qian Wang (with Professor John Schofield)



Year 1:

Excavation and Heritage Practice

Year 2:

Communicating Archaeology


Cultural Heritage Management 2: Museums, Audiences and Interpretation

Debates in Museum Theory and Practice

Heritage Education in Practice

External activities


Research Affiliate in the Environmental Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter

Associate Member of the Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage at the Humboldt University of Berlin


I am a founding coordinator of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies Early Career Researchers Network

I have peer-reviewed articles for a number of academic journals including:

  • Information, Communication & Society
  • International Journal of Heritage Studies
  • Internet Archaeology
  • Journal of Heritage Tourism
  • Journal of the Institute of Conservation
  • Memory Studies
  • Norwegian Archaeological Review
  • Public Archaeology
  • The Sociological Review
  • Studies in Conservation

Harald Fredheim

Contact details

Dr Harald Fredheim
Lecturer in Museum Studies
Department of Archaeology
University of York
The King's Manor