By Beatriz Haspo and Amparo Rueda
In 2019 we are celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Association for Heritage Preservation of the Americas, APOYOnline (formerly APOYO). Our organization has grown from a handful of visionary volunteers to a formidable entity that unites thousands of professionals.
When we started, our aim was to build multilingual bridges of communication throughout the American continent so all professionals dedicated to cultural heritage preservation could connect and receive training and updated technical information. Today, 30 years later, over 4,200 conservation professionals across Latin America, the Caribbean, and other Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries are connected, and over 600 have received specialized training through multilingual events organized by APOYOnline. Our dream has become a reality.
Our history began in 1989, when a group of conservators met to identify the needs of colleagues in Latin America, and to propose ways to support them. A questionnaire mailed to over 150 professionals identified their main obstacles as the lack of timely conservation information in Spanish and Portuguese and their isolation from others in the field.
With the goal of fulfilling needs identified in the survey, the first APOYO newsletter was published in 1989. Published in Spanish, it was the first of its kind and included translations of key articles and news. The Internet was not widely available, so the APOYO newsletter was printed and mailed twice a year until 2003, with the support of the Smithsonian’s Conservation Analytical Laboratory (now the Museum Conservation Institute). All issues of the newsletter are now available on the APOYOnline webpage.
In 1994, ICCROM offered support to merge APOYO’s database of over 1,500 names with their database of professionals from Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries. Over the next 14 years the resulting database was maintained and updated by ICCROM. The network has continued to grow and today is comprised of over 4,200 preservation professionals around the world.
In 1997, we forged an alliance with the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) and the Getty Grant Program (GGP) to establish the Latin American and Caribbean Scholarship Program. This program creates opportunities for informational exchange and collaboration between North American and Latin American colleagues. To date, almost 300 professionals from more than 25 countries have participated in AIC annual meetings and bilingual workshops organized by APOYOnline during these meetings.
Through collaborations and bilateral agreements with institutions around the world, we have translated, and continue to translate, technical publications into Spanish and Portuguese. Some key publications include the 1998 wall chart Framework for Preservation of Museum Collections by the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI); the Salvage Wheel from Heritage Preservation; the Photo-safe Guide for Display and Labeling Materials by the Image Permanence Institute; and since 2001, the abstracts of the Journal of the AIC, among many others.
Our online expansion began in 2003 when we created our first web page with the support of the Instituto de Cultura de Mendoza in Argentina. Many volunteers have helped maintain and redesign our webpage over the years, and today the APOYOnline website (www.apoyonline.org) and our presence on social media reach several thousand professionals around the world.
In 2009 APOYO was incorporated in Maryland obtaining the nonprofit status (501 c3) as APOYOnline – Association for Heritage Preservation of the Americas
APOYOnline also spearheads special initiatives to support Latin American and Caribbean institutions in need. After the 2017 hurricane season battered the Caribbean, APOYOnline surveyed the immediate needs of collections in the region and launched two Supply Donation Campaigns. We distributed supplies in person, donated by generous businesses and individuals, to 22 Cuban institutions.
Recently we launched MANOS A LA OBRA (“Helping Hands”), a community-focused volunteer initiative, created to give back to the local communities hosting APOYOnline conferences. In 2018, experts carried out collections care activities at the Archivo Histórico Municipal de la Ciudad de La Antigua, in Guatemala. We plan to continue this initiative during future events.
Since 2015, APOYOnline has expanded bilateral agreements and fundraising activities to execute multilingual conferences and workshops in Latin America and to offer scholarships to participants. Events include the 2015 workshop “Preventive Conservation Principles and Ethical Aspects in Museums with Ethnographic Collections” in Colombia; the 2016 1st APOYOnline Regional Conference on Heritage Preservation “Practical Exchange and Upcoming Projects” and “Workshop on Photographic Conservation, Fundraising and Advocacy” in Medellin, Colombia; the 2018 workshop “Identification and Conservation of Photographs” in la Habana, Cuba; and most recently, the 2018 2nd Regional Conference and Workshops in Heritage Preservation “Managing Emergencies in Cultural Heritage: Sharing Experiences and Strengthening Networks in the Americas” in La Antigua, Guatemala (read more about this event in the December 2018 issue of NiC).
Key partners include the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, the Universidad de los Andes, and the Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz) Foundation, among others, including over 50 corporate sponsors and private donors. These events have promoted networking and professional development in the region, while strengthening collaborations between more than 310 professionals from 19 countries.
To celebrate our 30th Anniversary we are organizing the “APOYOnline 30th Anniversary Conference and Workshop on Photographic Conservation” in September 2019 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in collaboration with Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz) Foundation, Casa de Rui Barbosa, the University of Delaware, and other sponsors. 200 people from Latin America, North America, and Europe are expected to share their experiences in networking, preventive conservation, risk management, digital preservation, education, and to carry out another MANOS A LA OBRA initiative for a local institution in need.
Additional projects for our 30th anniversary year include coordinating grantees from the 2019 Latin American and Caribbean Scholars Program at the AIC meeting; leading the panel “Managing Emergencies in Cultural Heritage: Sharing Experiences and Strengthening Networks in the Americas” at the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) Annual Meeting; translating the 2015 version of the CCI “Framework for Preserving Heritage Collections” into Spanish and Portuguese; expanding our online activities, and of course, a 30th anniversary fiesta in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil!
Led by Beatriz Haspo and Amparo Rueda, the APOYOnline team vows to continue embracing the challenges ahead in leading initiatives to support professional development and exchange in the region. We want to thank the numerous volunteers and sponsors that have made this dream become a reality over the last 30 years!
THANK YOU VERY MUCH! MUCHAS GRACIAS! MUITO OBRIGADA A TODOS!
For more information:
P.O.Box 2525, Rockville, MD 20852
Beatriz Haspo is a senior conservator and the Collections Officer of the Library of Congress. She is adjunct faculty at the University of Maryland iSchool; program chair of the Latin American and Caribbean Scholarly Program of the FAIC and volunteer Executive Director of APOYOnline - Association for Heritage Preservation of the Americas.
Amparo Rueda founded APOYO in 1989. Amparo was the Special Projects Officer, Conservation Division at the Library of Congress. She currently volunteers as the coordinator of the Interpreters Team of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), and as the Vice-President of APOYOnline. In 2001 she received the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works “Rutheford John Gettens Merit Award”, for outstanding service to the AIC and the field of conservation.