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Namdaemun gate to be restored using earlier conservation plans

The iconic Namdaemun gate in Seoul, South Korea, was badly damaged by fire following an arson attack in February. A fire broke out in the evening of 10 February 2008, destroying the wooden parts of the upper gate, but leaving the lower stone parts intact. Two disposable lighters were found at the scene, and 69-year-old Chae Jong-gi was arrested shortly afterwards, having admitted pouring paint thinner over the gate and setting it alight.

10 Feb 2008

Egypt to copyright the pyramids?

Zahi Hawass, head the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, recently suggested that Egypt might pass laws to copyright its historic monuments and artefacts, including the pyramids. If passed, the laws would apply to any full-scale, accurate replicas of artefacts, or to images of monuments that were intended for commercial use. Hawass said that any money raised from copyright payments would be used for the conservation of monuments and sites in Egypt.

Europa Nostra campaigns for Russian cities

Europa Nostra, the pan-European Federation for Heritage, has launched a campaign to save historic architecture in Moscow and St Petersburg. The organisation is appealing to Russia' s President Putin to safeguard the historic core of St Petersburg by preventing construction of a 396m high skyscraper for the new headquarters of Gazprom, Russia's energy monopoly. The skyscraper would rise three times higher than the city's tallest spire, and 8 times higher than the surrounding building height permitted by local regulations.

Baghdad National Museum restores two halls

The Baghdad National Museum has completed restoration of its Islamic and Assyrian galleries following their closure in 2003. The galleries are among 14 halls in the museum that were closed following damage caused by looters. The museum lost around 15 000 items during the looting, only 4 000 of which have ever been recovered. The two refurbished galleries will not be reopened to the public until better security measures have been put in place.

Sydney "running out of sandstone" for conservation

Sydney is in danger of running out of local sandstone to repair its nineteenth-century buildings, according to a team of conservators working for the New South Wales government. Much of the city is built in a soft, golden sandstone that is noted for its rich colour and its uniformity. However, many of the local quarries have now been built over or disused, making it difficult for the conservators to obtain suitable stone for replacements and repairs.

Israel forms conservation body

Following a meeting in December of more than 100 conservators in Tel Aviv, Israel now has a professional body for conservation. The new organisation will be known as the Israeli Society for the Conservation and Preservation of Cultural Property, and will bring together conservators in the private and public sectors. The organisation will be involved in professional conservation matters, including training, continuing professional development and the representation of conservators in the legal and political arenas.

IIC AGM, 8 February 2008

The fifty-third Annual General Meeting of The International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works will be held in the Sackler Rooms at the British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC2, on Friday 8th February 2008 at 4.00 pm. After the formal business is concluded, Kazuko Hioki will give a talk on the Japanese Kura approach to conservation storage. A summary of Ms Hioki's talk is given below.

From Japanese Tradition: Is Kura a Model for a Sustainable Preservation Environment?

8 Feb 2008

TCC to close in 2009

The UK's Textile Conservation Centre (TCC) will close in 2009, following a financial review by its parent institution. The TCC, which is run by the University of Southampton, has a Conservation Services department that carries out conservation and analytical services for museums and private clients. Despite this, the centre required annual subsidy from the university to make up its budget shortfall.

Conservation by stealth

Four "cultural guerillas" were charged, and cleared, last week of breaking into Paris' eighteenth-century Panthéon when it emerged that they had been secretly restoring the building's antique clock. The restorers were members of a gang of "urban explorers" called Untergunther, which undertakes clandestine restoration of urban heritage. They have previously restored medieval church crypts and organised secret nighttime plays in cultural monuments.

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