The international conference “The Best in Heritage 2015” will take place in Dubrovnik, Croatia, between 24 and 26 September. In this context, we recently interviewed its director, Professor Tomislav Sladojević Šola , in order to know more about the event, this year’s edition and its relevance to cooperation between Asia and Europe.
– Over 14 editions, the Best in Heritage has become a regular event in the international heritage calendar. What are, in your opinion, the main lessons and contributions made by this conference since it was first set up?
We assisted to the great convergence that is taking place within the public memory domain. From the beginning we insisted that, unlike other conferences we would cover museums, heritage (i.e. wider scene terminologically and organisationally separated) and conservation. If we leave the specificities to the specialist interest, they are all “3 – C” institutions, – founded upon collecting, care and communication of the past (and what is past in the present already). We took for granted that all those institutions are scientifically founded and turned our criteria more to the quality of their public performance. So the main lessons would be: we help convergence happen, being so wide in approach we are a very strong source of inspiration and, finally, we contribute to elaboration of criteria of quality that are the essence of any profession. We have also become a unique platform where public sector meets civil society upon the grand task of communicating public memory. From the very beginning we have been granted the patronage and partnership of the most illustrious organisations, among which ICOM and Europa Nostra are the best examples.
– What should participants in this year’s edition expect?
Briefly answered: a packed programme, a variety of approaches and practices and, finally, inspiration and new contacts as we place emphasis on a good-quality social programme. The participants will again be at least 130 in number, coming from some 20-30 countries. This year we cover 11 out of approximately 50 award schemes that we choose projects from. Out of 28 presentations, this year we have two museums from China, two from Japan, one from Russia, and one from Iran. Hardly any edition of the conference so far passed without at least one project from Australia or New Zealand, or both. Projects come from 22 countries. The audience is also a jury that votes for the presentation that they find the most impressive so that at the closing ceremony we could proclaim the most influential project of the conference. We have found that this exercise helps the quality of presentations and serves as an additional motivation to participants.
– ASEMUS is a network of over 100 museums in Asia and Europe. How may The Best in Heritage facilitate cooperation between museums in Asia and Europe?
We have recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese Museums Association. They presumed that we can be a useful partner. We accumulate annually an enormous potential of excellence in the best practices we present. This experience can be used for further distribution. We are already offering to our partners and members of our Excellence Club our exhibition of projects that will be shown in Dubrovnik. The exhibition is a reminder and transfer for an online insight. As Excellence Club we present our handpicked projects at the EXPONATEC biennial fair of suppliers for museums, heritage and conservation in Cologne. This we can do in Asia too. With our projects coming usually from four continents we offer a convincing picture of the global unity in professional criteria of quality, differences comprised. And, all that is obvious even before an effort in exploring the common potential.
Tomislav Sladojević Šola was born in Zagreb, Croatia (1948). He finished Art History and English Language in Zagreb, Museology in Zagreb and Paris, and studied Architecture and Journalism in Zagreb. He obtained a PhD in Museology (“Towards the Total Museum”, 1985. University of Ljubljana, Slovenia)
For additional information about The Best in Heritage, please visit http://www.thebestinheritage.com/ 
ASEMUS is proud to be a media partner of The Best in Heritage 2015. Special rates are available for ASEMUS members when registering to attend the conference. For additional information, please visit http://asemus.museum/event/the-best-in-heritage-2015-croatia/