APOYOnline 30th Anniversary Conference and Workshop on Heritage Preservation

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“Manos a la Obra” volunteers at the State Archives of Rio de Janeiro. Image courtesy of APOYOnline.

30 years building bridges and pathways for the preservation of cultural heritage in the Americas, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

By Claudia S.Rodrigues de Carvalho

The APOYOnline 30th Anniversary Conference and Workshop on Heritage Preservation: 30 Years Building Bridges and Pathways for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage in the Americas, held in Rio de Janeiro from 23-27 September 2019, was an outstanding event for the heritage preservation field.

APOYOnline works to strengthen networks among cultural heritage professionals in Latin America, the Caribbean, and other Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries and to promote professional development in the field through improved access to specialized training and updated technical information.

The celebration of three decades of APOYOnline´s activities was organized in partnership with Brazilian public institutions, Casa de Oswaldo Cruz-Fiocruz and Casa de Rui Barbosa Foundation, and also in collaboration with the University of Delaware (USA).

Casa de Oswaldo Cruz is part of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) and is dedicated to producing knowledge through research in the field of the history of science and health. It also takes part in overseeing the preservation, appraisal, and dissemination of the architectural, urban, archeological, archival, bibliographic, and museological heritage that has been amassed by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) since its early twentieth-century establishment on the grounds of the Manguinhos Fazenda in Rio de Janeiro, which was originally known as the Federal Serum Therapy Institute (Instituto Soroterápico Federal). The Institute offers a professional master´s degree in the preservation and management of cultural heritage in the sciences and health (http://www.coc.fiocruz.br/index.php/en/about/about).

Casa de Rui Barbosa Foundation-FCRB is a Brazilian federal institution which focuses on the development of culture through research, teaching, preservation of collections, and the production and dissemination of knowledge. The high purpose of the Institute is to promote knowledge of Rui Barbosa´s life and work by preserving and disseminating the assets that belonged to him including the residence built in 1849, which is the first Brazilian historic house-museum; his library; and his personal archive. FCRB holds an important Brazilian historic collection and literary archives. The house of Rui Barbosa Foundation also offers a professional master´s degree in memory and collections (www.casaruibarbosa.gov.br).

The first part of the event was a conference that occurred on the Casa de Rui Barbosa premises with more than 200 participants. This was followed by a workshop on photograph conservation with 60 participants at Casa de Oswaldo Cruz. The program also included the APOYOnline 30th anniversary celebration; visits to the National Library, Instituto Moreira Sales, and Historical Architectural Center of Manguinhos (FIOCRUZ); an exhibition of preservation materials; and the APOYOnline volunteer-based initiative “Manos a la Obra” (“Helping Hands”) held at the Public Archives of the State of Rio de Janeiro.

The conference key-note speaker was Professor Debra Hess Norris from the University of Delaware. The conference´s themes were cooperation networks, preventive conservation, risk management, professional training and education in preservation, and digitalization and digital preservation, all of which were discussed in four panels over two days. Panel 1 was on networking and communication. Panelists included Beatriz Haspo (USA/Brazil; executive director APOYOnline; professor, University of Maryland; collections officer, Library of Congress), Amparo Rueda (Colombia; founder and vice-president APOYOnline), António Candeias (Portugal; vice-president, University of Évora/ Laboratory Hercules/ Laboratory José de Figueiredo), and Margarida Lages (Portugal; president, Network of Diplomatic Archives of the Americas-RADI).

Panel 2 was on digitization and digital preservation, and the panelists were Millard Schisler (Brazil; adjunct professor, Johns Hopkins University), Alan Haley (USA; preservation specialist, Library of Congress), Miguel Ángel Márdero Arellano (Mexico; coordinator of Cariniana Network, Brazilian Institute of Information in Science and Technology, IBICT), Aquiles Alencar-Brayner (Brazil, consultant), Howard Besser (USA; professor, New York University).

Panel 3 was on professional development and preservation education, and the panelists were Debra Hess Norris (USA; professor, Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation), Nora Kennedy (USA; chair photograph conservation department, Metropolitan Museum of Art), Luiz Souza (Brazil; professor, Federal University of Minas Gerais), Griselda Kluppel (Brazil; professor, Federal University of Bahia).

Panel 4 was on preventive conservation and risk management, and panelists included Rob Waller (Canada; president, Protect Heritage Corp), Claudia S. Rodrigues Carvalho (Brazil; architectural preservation specialist, Casa de Rui Barbosa Foundation), Carla Maria Teixeira Coelho (Brazil; architect, Casa de Oswaldo Cruz/Fiocruz),

Alexander Kellner (Brazil; director, National Museum of Brazil). This panel concluded with the presentation of a video of Gaël de Guichen (Italy; special advisor to the director general of ICCROM) interviewed by José Luiz Pedersoli (Brazil; program manager, conservation of collections, ICCROM).

The conference also had 32 oral presentations and more than 50 posters included in the poster session. After visits to the National Library, the Public Archives of the State of Rio de Janeiro, and the Historic Architecture Center of Manguinhos, the conference´s closing ceremony was held at Casa de Oswaldo Cruz, where Debra Hess Norris and Nora Kennedy delivered a lecture on the preservation of photographic materials.

During the last two days of the celebration, the photograph conservation workshop took place at Casa de Oswaldo Cruz, with 60 participants and a team of specialists and instructors including Debra Hess Norris, Nora Kennedy, Ronel Namde (J. Paul Getty Museum), Sarah Freeman (J. Paul Getty Museum), and Amber Kehoe (The Harry Ransom Center). As part of the program, the Instituto Moreira Salles hosted the participants for a visit to see its photographic collection.

The conference gathered professionals and students from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, Spain, the United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Canada, Portugal, and Spain.

The sponsorship program enabled several participants to attend the events, provided materials to support the “Manos a la Obra” initiative, and supported the photograph conservation workshop as well as technical visits to related institutions.

Besides presenting the important work of cultural heritage professionals throughout the Americas, the Caribbean, and Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries around the world, the event also gave us a sense of accomplishment in improving the careers of the future generation of professionals in preservation cultural heritage; approximately 30% of registered participants were students from various training programs in preservation/conservation from Brazil, Latin America, and Portugal.

As a member of the organizing committee, and on behalf of Casa de Rui Barbosa Foundation, I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to those who made this event possible; it was a remarkable experience to work with Beatriz Haspo, Marcos José de Araújo Pinheiro (Deputy Director for Cultural Heritage and Science Communication-Casa de Oswaldo Cruz), and all the individuals and institutions that were involved in this celebration.


Claudia S. Rodrigues de Carvalho is an architectural preservation specialist. She graduated in architecture and urbanism at the School of Architecture and Urbanism, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ, 1985). She received an MA in architecture and urbanism (UFRJ/2005) and a PhD in history and fundamentals of architecture and urbanism at the University of São Paulo (2006). Claudia has been the coordinator of the Casa de Rui Barbosa Preventive Conservation Plan since 1998.  

(Read the full article in the April-May 2020 "News in Conservation" Issue 77, p. 42-46)

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APOYOnline works to strengthen networks among cultural heritage professionals in Latin America, the Caribbean, and other Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries and to promote professional development in the field through improved access to specialized training and updated technical information.
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