Watch: Culture Cannot Wait, Point of the Matter Dialogue

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"After the second hurricane, I stopped salvaging the objects and focused on keeping water away from the building. So I had to leave the objects in the water for two or three months..."

Our Point of the Matter Dialogue “Culture Cannot Wait: Integrating  Cultural Heritage First Aid with Humanitarian Assistance in Crises” was delivered at the Turin Congress on September 12 2018,  organised in conjunction with the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) which is part of UNESCO and based in Rome.

It discusses how the salvage of cultural heritage is essential for the psycho-social recovery of the societies which have experienced the trauma of war and disaster, and the obstacles in the way of those trying to work on this preservation. Panellists discuss the difficult decisions they had to make and their work to put protocols in place to cope more effectively with future disasters.

Guide to content

Emergency evacuation at Hanuman Dhoka Palace Museum coordinated
by the Nepal Army in 2015; Photo: Aparna Tandon, ICCROM

You can watch the whole film above. The order of speakers and content is as follows:

0.00  Introduction of speakers by Amber Kerr, IIC Vice-President and head of the Lunder Conservation Centre at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

5.00 Catherine Antomarchi, Unit Manager of the Collections Unit of ICCROM, introducing the Dialogue. She describes how in 2010, ICCROM introduced its first First Aid for Cultural Heritage programme, in the year of the Haiti earthquake. Currently crises are happening at five times the rate of the 1970s and there are 42 ongoing conflicts which have killed and displaced populations and annihilated cultures.

10.15 Short film featuring Layla Salih, archaeologist, Mosul, Iraq. (Unfortunately the audio on this film is not great, but you can see footage of the context in which Layla has been working)

14.45 Veronica Piacentini, Cultural Heritage Protection Officer of the Italian Civil Protection Department. Work on natural disasters over the last 30 years.

19.50 Lieutenant-colonel Thierry Burger, Fire Prevention Advisor for Heritage Assets at the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.

26.30 Dr. Zeynep Gul Unal, member of a search and rescue team, GEA and Secretary General of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) International Scientific Committee on Risk Preparedness. Uses the example of her team's work immediately after the disaster in Nepal, starting with human search and rescue, and then leading to cultural rescue interventions. Also covers the Van Museum in Turkey.

34.00 Lt. Col. Tim Purbrick, SO1 Cultural Property Protection at British Army Headquarters. He describes the work by the British Army since 2014 to more effectively preserve cultural heritage, in tandem with legal changes by the Government.

40.30 Rebecca Kennedy, preservation specialist and member of the Smithsonian Institution ‘s Preparedness and Response in Collections Emergencies Working Group. She describes her experiences in Florida in 2004 after six hurricanes hit the state, causing a complex cultural emergency at a time when there were no procedures in place, and her subsequent career in disaster preparedness.

45.20 Aparna Tandon, Project Manager and Leader of the International Capacity Development Program on First Aid for Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis at ICCROM. Government processes for dealing with disasters, and how - apart from in Italy - cultural heritage is not part of standard processes.

53.00 Questions from the audience

About our Dialogues

IIC dialogues 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.