Symposium – Current Approaches to the Conservation of Conflict-Affected Heritage

Symposium – Current Approaches to the Conservation of Conflict-Affected Heritage

28 February, 2020, Washington, DC, USA

The Smithsonian Institution hosted the symposium, “Current Approaches to the Conservation of Conflict-Affected Heritage” on February 28, 2020. Panelists, who have addressed conflict-affected heritage through collaborative interventions, developing on-the-ground responses, or conducting much needed basic scientific studies, presented ongoing cases from Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq, as well as cutting-edge conservation approaches that show great promise in assisting the global effort to restore what has been damaged and recover what has been lost.

Armed conflicts result in damage, destruction, and theft of cultural heritage. This tragic loss raises new and challenging questions to the fields of heritage preservation and conservation. How do we respond to ongoing threats? What support is appropriate for colleagues in conflict-affected areas? What forms of salvage, stabilization, conservation interventions, and commemoration are needed? Are there new or speculative scientific methods that can assist in conservation or tracking the theft of objects? Scholars and practitioners alike are working through these concerns in real time as they are faced with global crises and increased public attention about the post-conflict futures of heritage sites, museum collections, and cultural traditions.

This symposium was organized by the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative, the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute, and the International Council of Museums Disaster Resilient Museums Committee (DRMC), and supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Session 1: International Heritage Needs and Responses During and After Conflict

Addressing the Conflict-Affected Heritage in Ukraine: Challenges and Responses
Ihor Poshyvailo, National Memorial and the Revolution of Dignity Museum

The Responsive Preservation Initiative: Meeting Urgent Cultural Heritage Needs through the American Overseas Research Centers
Glenn Corbett, Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC)

Preservation Efforts in Northwest Syria
Salam Al Kuntar, Rutgers University/Syrians for Heritage (SIMAT)

Session 2: International Exchange, Conservation Training, and Salvage in Iraq and Beyond

Reconstructing Iraq’s Heritage Sector: Reflections on a Decade of Partnerships and Programs
Brian Michael Lione, Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute

Capacity Building After Conflict: Case Studies from The Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage
Jessica S. Johnson, Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute

Nimrud Rescue
Kent Severson, Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design

Session 3: New Methodological Approaches to the Heritage Conservation After Conflict

Heritage in the Crossfire
Lisa Mol, University of the West of England, Bristol

Macro to Nano: A Multiscale Approach to Characterising Ballistic Damage to Stone
Oliver Campbell, Cardiff University

Cuneiform Tablets After Crisis: The Potential for Better Protection Through Technical Analysis
Katharyn Hanson, Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute