Protecting Cultural Heritage in an Uncertain Time

Protecting Cultural Heritage in an Uncertain Time

26 October 2016, 9.30 – 5.15
Washington, DC Academic Center.

For further details and live streaming, visit the website here.

The opening remarks can be viewed online here.

New York University, in partnership with Friends of Florence and the City of Florence will convene two meetings to commemorate the anniversary of “L’Alluvione,” a flood that ravaged the city of Florence and damaged countless pieces of art of immeasurable value, some irreparably. On the occasion of that commemoration, the two conferences, one in Washington, DC and the other in Florence, Italy will call attention to an equally devastating contemporary challenge to our cultural patrimony: intentional destruction of cultural property for ideological reasons.
This symposium brings together regional actors together with international experts and scholars from the fields of art, conservation and museums, international culture, law and law enforcement agencies and organizations to discuss the challenges and solutions to protecting our cultural heritage.
Cultural heritage is increasingly in danger of intentional destruction or incidental damage in the context of war and terrorism. The attack on the temples and burial towers of Palmyra in Syria is the latest shocking example of a systematic campaign of bombing, smashing, bulldozing and otherwise destroying irreplaceable cultural properties, for ideological reasons, across the Middle East and North Africa. In addition, extremist groups are generating income trafficking items looted from archaeological sites and museums in these conflict areas. The international community is struggling to cope with the destruction, which seems to be continuing unabated. The United Nations Security Council, in a resolution addressed to the destruction by ISIL and the Al-Nusrah Front of cultural heritage in Iraq and Syria, called upon the international community to take steps, in cooperation with Interpol, UNESCO and other international organizations, to prevent the trafficking in items of cultural, scientific and religious importance illegally removed from either country during periods of conflict.

Panel 1
Conservation Challenges in Emergency Preparation: This panel will consider the challenges and methods in use to conserve items facing immediate threat by human catastrophes.

  • Stephanie Hornbeck, Director of Conservation, Caryatid Conservation Services, Inc.
  • Norbert S. Baer, Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Conservation, Conservation Center, Institute of Fine Arts, NYU
  • Alda Benjamen, Research Associate, Cultural Rescue Initiative, Smithsonian Institution

Watch online here.

Panel 2
Methods of Documentation: This panel will discuss the existing and developing technologies being used to reconstruct and document destroyed objects, artifacts, heritage sites and architecture, in order to preserve a digital copy of the past that is lost to the elements, human conflict and the passing of time.

  • Cheikhmous Ali, Université de Strasbourg; Fellow, Paris Institute for Advanced Study (Fall 2016)
  • Scott Branting, Assistant Professor, University of Central Florida
  • Donald H. Sanders, President, Learning Sites, Inc

Watch online here

Panel 3
The Feasibility, Desirability and Ethics of Reconstructing Destroyed Cultural Properties

  • James Janowski, Professor of Philosophy, Hampden-Sydney College
  • Anna Paolini, UNESCO Representative in the Arab States of the Gulf and Yemen; Director, UNESCO Doha Office
  • John Childs, Director of Museum Collection Services at Peabody Essex Museum

Watch online here.