Getty mosaic programme teaches conservation in conflict zones

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Middle East

LOS ANGELES - Mosaikon, a programme supported by the Getty Foundation, is helping train conservators to care for priceless artefacts such as ancient Greek and Roman mosaics that can be found all over the Mediterranean, including political hot spots such as Libya and Syria.
The conservation programme was launched in 2009 when the Getty Foundation and the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) joined forces with two external partners— the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) in Rome and the International Committee for the Conservation of Mosaics (ICCM). The initiative to improve the care and presentation of mosaics of classical antiquity in museums and in situ in the Middle East and North Africa is helping Middle Eastern countries to protect their precious treasures.
Looting, poor conservation practice and regional conflicts, including the current Syrian civil war, have taken a toll on many ancient mosaics. These regions have also traditionally lacked the expertise as the few trained conservators in the field often reside elsewhere.
Joan Weinstein, deputy director at the Getty Foundation said: "There had been some efforts to teach people in the region to care for mosaics -- but they had been unco-ordinated". She added that "one of the challenges of earlier years was that individual countries were always importing experts who could provide a short-term fix for a problem. But this didn't lead to sustainable solutions."
So far the project has gathered teams of conservators from countries such as Syria, Libya and Jordan and trained them in the latest mosaic-conservation techniques. Conservators trained in the Mosaikon programme have helped, among other projects, to repair damage to the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Syria, one of the oldest and largest mosques in the world.
So far, the Getty Foundation has committed US$6 million to the effort.
The next step for Mosaikon is to train local teachers who will be able to take over the task of training the future generation of conservators. To learn more about Mosaikon visit: