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The International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works welcomes you to:

Dialogues for the New Century

Events and discussions addressing the conservation of cultural heritage in a changing world

The IIC regularly initiates presentations and dialogues that explore emerging issues in the modern world and the relationship of those issues to the preservation of cultural heritage. These events are also offered to raise awareness of heritage conservation among relevant professions and the public sector. Each event benefits from a variety of expertise, in a broad spectrum of disciplines, contributing unique perspectives on a specific topic. The events are open to all but also targeted to create productive collaborations among a variety of stakeholders. Edited transcripts can be found below for each event.

Do you have ideas for new events in this series?

We are always looking for new themes, ideas and speakers in the Dialogues for the New Century initiative. If you would like to see an idea or topic explored please let us know. Contact IIC at

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Translations of the transcripts from each these events are now available in a growing number of languages through the IIC project Lingua.

Join the LINGUAS!

Dialogues for the New Century provides thought provoking, valuable and pertinent information to the preservation field and IIC wants to be sure this resource is as available to as many colleagues across the world as possible. If you are fluent in a language other than English consider joining Project Lingua. Professionals from many countries across the globe are volunteering their time and skills to translate event transcriptions into the world’s diverse languages. And we always need more help! Become a LINGUA… make a difference! Contact IIC, get involved and GetConnected!

Rising Tide/Melting Ice: The preservation of world archaeological heritage in a time of climate change

Global weather patterns are changing and with these changes come significant threats to the preservation of world archaeological heritage. An increasing number of coastal sites are vulnerable to inundation and ruin by rising sea levels. And as temperatures rise in some parts of the world those archaeological remains which have laid frozen in the permafrost, in a state of spectacular preservation, are beginning to thaw…and rot. The need to raise awareness of how global climate change is affecting archaeological heritage is clear and the timeframe left to us to address this challenge is growing ever shorter. From Easter Island to the Altai Mountains, archaeological sites are increasingly at risk due to changing weather patterns and climate shifts.

Following from the IIC 2008 Dialogue on Climate Change and Conservation, this panel discussion will focus on specific case studies and their relationship to the broader challenges being faced by the preservation community in a world of shifting climates.

Panel members:

Andrew Curry is a contributing editor at ARCHAEOLOGY and has written extensively on the effect climate change is having on cultural heritage. He has written and edited for Archaeology Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, Discover Magazine, National Geographic, The New Republic, Science, Smithsonian Magazine, The Washington Post, Wired and Wired News among other periodicals. Andrew Curry was a Fullbright Journalism Fellow; he received the Arthur F. Burns Journalism Prize in 2008; the 21st Century Trust Fellow, Rostock, Germany in 2007; and was named a Fulbright Guest Lecturer, University of Leipzig in 2006.

Wouter Gheyle studied archaeology at Ghent University where he received his Master's degree in 2002 and his PhD in 2009. He has been working as a scientific researcher at Ghent University since 2003. His main interest is in the archaeology of the nomadic cultures of the Eurasian steppes, with a focus on the Altay Mountains. His research from 2003 to 2009 was with a UNESCO/Flanders Funds-in-Trust project concerning the Preservation of the Frozen Tombs of the Altay Mountains. Currently he is working on a project that involves the in-depth study of the Iron-Age population in Altay.

May Cassar is Professor of Sustainable Heritage at UCL and Director of the Centre for Sustainable Heritage, which she set up at the Bartlett School of Graduate Studies (BSGS) in 2001 when she joined UCL. She leads the Heritage Research Group within the Complex Built Environment Systems research area at BSGS and has overall responsibility for research, teaching and consultancy in sustainable heritage. May has a national role as a member of the Science and Research Advisory Committee of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and as the Director of the AHRC/EPSRC Science and Heritage Research Programme, and has an international role as a member of the European Union External Advisory Group for the RTD Theme, Environment (including Climate Change) and as a member of the Executive Board of the EU Joint Programming Initiative on ‘Cultural Heritage and Global Change’

Venue: Centre for Sustainable Heritage Administrator
Bartlett School of Graduate Studies
Room 106, Roberts Engineering Building
University College London
Torrington Place

Date: Wednesday 18th January 2012

Time: 7.00 pm

Under Lock and Hey

Under Lock and Key? Collection readiness and response in times of conflict

Recent events around the world have once again focused attention on the vulnerability of heritage sites and collections during times of conflict and unrest. IIC has asked five international colleagues to comment on the need to both plan and implement measures which assure the safety of cultural heritage. Their dialogue, conducted between the 10th of February and the 15th of March 2011, provides significant insight into the dynamic nature of the topic and reminds us that the direct and indirect ramifications of conflict can linger of many months, even years, after the outward aspects have been quelled and resolved. This dialogue raises important questions about how we respond and how we cope with difficult times and difficult decisions. And it serves as a call to all heritage professionals, policy makers and organizations to advocate for the protection of collections, monuments, buildings and sites during times of conflict.

Read more... English

Between Home and History: Managing the interface between preservation and development of living historic places

Between Home and History

At the IIC congress in Istanbul the last event in the IIC initiative Dialogues for the New Century explored the conflicts that emerge when pressures of development, gentrification or regeneration challenge our desire to preserve places of historic value that are also home to living communities.

If a place has value as both a historic memory and as a home, how can all these values be preserved? When a neighborhood, district or region of historic significance is preserved, what are we preserving? Is our concern solely with the material remains which serve as memory prompts… or is there more? Where does the dynamic function of home fit within the preservation plan? How is the community, along with its ongoing way of life, incorporated into the preservation of a place?

This Round Table explored these and many other issues as the panelists gathered, with you, at the interface between preservation and development… between home and history.

Read more... English  Farsi  French  Croatian

Watch an exclusive IIC interview with the Nobel Laureate author Orhan Pamuk in regard to this discussion.

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The Plus/Minus Dilemma: The Way Forward in Environmental Guidelines

Milwaukee, 13th of May 2010

For over four decades the environmental guidelines for museums and archives have been defined within narrow parameters. While many factors influenced what became standards, the narrowest range of conditions and the greatest insistence on them, came when energy was relatively cheap, global climate considerations were not yet mainstream discussions, and the technology of HVAC systems was focused more on control than efficiency.

Given the looming energy crisis, the global economic downturn, and the rising awareness of green technology equating to good stewardship of our natural resources, responsible and efficient environmental control has become essential.

For this roundtable the IIC is pleased to collaborate with the AIC and bring together experts to discuss environmental guidelines, advances in environmental research, and the way forward to solve the plus/minus dilemma.

Amber Kerr and Rose Daly will be blogging live from the event as guests of the IIC News Blog.

Read more... English Croatian

Conservation in Crisis

London, 28th of January 2010

A discussion between Anna Somers Cocks, Founder and Editorial Director of The Art Newspaper and Samuel Jones of DEMOS and co-author of It's A Material World: Caring for the Public Realm, on the looming crisis in the field of conservation.

For this event the IIC wanted to step back a bit and look at the field of heritage conservation in a far more generalised way than is usual and explore why the profession appears to be especially susceptible to cutbacks and budget reductions during times of economic downturn, such as the one that is being experienced worldwide at the moment. Some would say that the profession of conservation lacks sufficient influence due to its small size relative to other fields of endeavour. Others would say that we are insular and have not made sufficient effort to reach out to other stakeholders in heritage in order to inform them of the value of what we do. Still others would say that we have been unwilling to involve others in our decision making and hence they lack both the understanding and investment that leads to support. Or is it a combination of these and other reasons?

Read more...  English  Croatian  French  Serbian  Spanish

Before the Unthinkable Happens Again

Tokyo, 22nd of July 2009

An international roundtable discussion on the need for seismic mitigation research and applications for cultural heritage.

If statistics are correct, many of the world’s cultural centres will experience major earthquakes in the first few decades of the 21st century. Many have recently suffered the effects of significant seismic events (the Abruzzo earthquake in Italy being only one). Time is therefore not in preservation’s favour and immediate action is paramount. The needs for collaborative efforts in research and implementation, policy development and outreach are clear, and nothing less than the survival of much of the world’s cultural treasures is at stake.

Eight colleagues from five countries that regularly experience significant earthquakes agreed to consider a series of questions and to discuss with each other, and the audience in Tokyo, the way forward in protecting collections from damage due to earthquakes. These panelists have produced some of the best international research in seismology, engineering, education, policy and mitigation implementation to date and they lead the field with their knowledge and commitment.

Read more...  English  Chinese  Croatian  Greek  Japanese  Spanish

Climate Change and Museum Collections

London, 17th of September 2008

The changing climate of our earth has implications that go well beyond the dramatic effects of storms and rising sea levels, shifts in migratory patterns and habitats, or the potential for increased health risks from pollutants. Weather patterns and temperature variations also affect the long term preservation of the world’s cultural treasures which we enjoy and which inspire us every day.

The threats that come with climate change do not just exist in the outdoor environment. The delicate and fragile treasures within our museums are also susceptible. Museum and house collections that may not have previously required environmental control may soon require such efforts to meet their preservation responsibilities. Those collections protected by environmental systems may be at greater risk if such systems are not updated and expanded in capacity. To remain effective the maintenance plans for historic buildings, public monuments, and archaeological sites will require adaptation to our changing climate.

Read more... English Arabic Chinese Croatian Greek Japanese Spanish Turkish