Walter Persegati, 1920-2017

October 13, 2017

Walter PersegatiICCROM has learned with great sadness of the death of Walter Persegati at the age of 96 years.

Very active in his youth in the Young Catholic movement, Persegati organized among other things the reception of European refugees in the United States during the 1950s. He returned to Italy and collaborated with Caritas International, and was also representative of the Holy See to the FAO, where he distinguished himself for his qualities as an organizer. In 1972 he was appointed Secretary-General and Treasurer of the Vatican Museums with the immediate and main task of reorganizing the establishment in order to prepare for the millions of pilgrims expected for the Holy Year of 1975. He remained in this post until his retirement in 1998.

In three years he created an exemplary museum, a stand-out amidst all the major European museums, where public reception goes hand in hand with security, where the training of personnel at all levels is undertaken together with the conservation of the artworks.

From 1975 to 1991 Persegati received the participants on the ICCROM Course on Prevention in Museums, accompanying them on study tours of the Museum. Those who had the good fortune to hear him still remember his vision and pragmatism which he expressed with a very British humor. He explained the original system developed to provide visitors with five possible routes depending on their available time, from one to six hours. He called this last “the kamikaze route” which ensured that visitors passed before 18 kilometers of walls with exposed artworks. Continue reading…


Maurizio Marabelli (1934 – 2017)

October 5, 2017

Maurizio MarabelliIt is with sadness that ICCROM announces the recent passing of Maurizio Marabelli on 19 September 2017, after a long illness.

A graduate of Chemistry from the Sapienza University of Rome, he began his career in 1964 at the Istituto Centrale del Restauro (ICR; now Istituto Superiore per la Conservazione ed il Restauro  ̶  ISCR). In 1980 he became the Director of the Chemistry Laboratory, a position he kept until his retirement in 2001.

His main fields of study and scientific interest were: the conservation of metals and wall paintings, the application of non-destructive analytical techniques, and the monitoring of air pollutants and their effects on both indoor and outdoor works of art. Continue reading…


Roberto Conforti, 1938-2017

August 7, 2017

Roberto Conforti

Roberto Conforti, General of the Carabinieri Corps for the Protection of Cultural Heritage (CC-TPC), passed away on 26 July 2017.  He was 79 years old, and had more than 42 years of service in the Corps.

Conforti’s long career with the Carabinieri began in 1961.  After serving in many regions of Italy, he was posted to Lazio in 1985, where he took part in multiple initiatives against organized crime.  In 1991 Conforti was named to the command of the Protection Unit for Artistic Heritage (Nucleo Protezione del Patrimonio Artistico – CC-TPC), which he commanded until his retirement on 1 September 2002.

Conforti’s Protection Unit traced and recovered thousands of works taken from museums, archives, churches, archaeological sites and private spaces, in Italy as well as in several foreign states.  Some noteworthy works were the Nomentum Slab with its dedication to the Emperor Hadrian, and the Capitoline Triad which the Unit returned to the Rodolfo Lanciani Civic Archaeological Museum, as well as Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings Le Jardinier et L’Arlésienne. Continue reading…


Josef Riederer (1939-2017)

June 20, 2017

Josef Riederer (1939-2017)Josef Riederer, one of the most eminent heritage scientists of his generation, passed away on 3 June following a brief illness.

Having graduated in geology from Ludwig-Maximilians Universität in Munich in 1962, Riederer obtained his PhD two years later. He began his work in the field of cultural heritage conservation in 1967 at the Doerner Institute with the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlung (Bavarian State Painting Collections) in Munich.

In 1973, Riederer was given the enormous task of revitalizing the world’s first and oldest conservation science laboratory at the National Museums in Berlin.  This laboratory was established in 1888 but had fallen into disarray after the Second World War. A generous grant from the Stiftung Volkswagenwerk enabled the laboratory to carry out archaeometric research and so close the knowledge gap that had formed between the National Museums and similar institutions elsewhere.

Josef Riederer planed and implemented this new research entity, then known as the Rathgen Research Laboratory for the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation.  He was nominated as its third Director in 1974, following the footsteps of Friedrich Rathgen, the first Director from 1888 to 1928, and of Carl Brittner, its second Director from 1928 to 1948. Continue reading…


Abdallah Hamad Muhareb (1946-2017)

May 9, 2017

Abdallah Hamad MuharebDr Abdallah Hamad Muhareb, Director General of the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO), passed away on Thurs 4 May.  He was 71 years old.

Of Kuwaiti nationality, Dr Muhareb received his doctorate at Cairo University in 1987.  After a distinguished career as a cultural diplomat in various settings including at the Embassy of Kuwait in Egypt, Dr Muhareb was elected to the post of ALECSO Director-General in 2012.  He began his mandate in 2013 and was extended for a second mandate into 2017.

Dr Muhareb was a good friend and partner to ICCROM, establishing solid work relations with two ICCROM Directors-General, Stefano De Caro and Mounir Bouchenaki.  During his mandate at ALECSO, Dr Muhareb strongly promoted ALECSO’s collaboration with ICCROM and its ICCROM-ATHAR Regional Conservation Centre on capacity building activities to strengthen capacities of official heritage institutions in the Arab region. Continue reading…


Sok An (1950 – 2017)

April 18, 2017

HE Sok An
Photo: Pedro França / Ministério da Cultura do Brasil (cc-by-2.0)

ICCROM joins the Cambodian people and all lovers of heritage in mourning the loss of the Cambodian Vice Prime Minister Samdech Vibol Panha Sok An, who died on 15 March 2017.  He was 67 years old.

HE Sok An, as a high government figure, played an active and dynamic role in the management and conservation of cultural heritage in his own country and at an international level.  Cambodian heritage is exceptional, and Sok An reflected this in his strong commitment to it over the years.

As President of the APSARA Authority, responsible for the management of the World Heritage property of Angkor, Sok An attended all sessions of the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of Angkor (ICC-Angkor) from 2004 up until February 2017, when he was absent due to ill health. He ensured that decisions of the World Heritage Committee concerning Angkor were always given the necessary attention, and played a key role in the protection, conservation and sustainable development of the site. He was also active in efforts to inscribe the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List, which met with success in July 2008. Continue reading…


Donatella Zari (1949 – 2016)

January 25, 2017

Donatella Zari (1949 – 2016)It is with great sadness that ICCROM says farewell to friend and colleague Donatella Zari, who passed away in Rome on 27 December 2016. Donatella and her husband of 49 years, Carlo Giantomassi, worked with ICCROM on numerous projects and courses over many decades. They team-taught on ICCROM’s Mural Paintings Conservation course, and carried out conservation on important and challenging heritage in some of the most remote corners of the globe. Many examples from Donatella and her husband’s teaching experiences attest to their willingness and ability to transmit ideas, skills and knowledge to the younger generation of restorers. Continue reading…


COLIN PEARSON (1941-2016)

April 21, 2016

Colin Pearson receiving ICCROM's Award during the 2003 General AssemblyIt is with great sadness that ICCROM has learnt of the passing of Colin Pearson, professor at Canberra University in Australia, and ICCROM’s Council Member from 1984 to 1995.  He died on Sunday 17 April 2016, at 75 years of age.

Born in the Midlands in England on 20 January 1941, Colin studied at the University of Manchester in 1962-66, obtaining both his Master and PhD in corrosion science. He subsequently began a three-year contract as a research scientist at the Materials Research Laboratories in Melbourne. Here he devoted particular attention to researching the conservation of the iron cannon and ballast abandoned by Lieutenant James Cook from his ship HMS Endeavour in 1770. He was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1970 as an early recognition for his contribution to corrosion science.

Colin set up the Conservation Department of the Western Australian Museum in Fremantle in 1971, specialising in the treatment of maritime archaeological material from Dutch and colonial shipwrecks on the West Australian coast. He was directly involved in the development of research and training in the conservation of cultural material in South-East Asia, Oceania and Australasia, all regions with humid climates. In 1977, the Australian National Commission for UNESCO, Committee for Museums and Libraries, recommended sponsoring a regional seminar on this subject. The following year the Australian government established bachelor and master-level training programmes in the Conservation of Cultural Materials at the Canberra College of Advanced Education (CCAE). The main subjects were in the areas of the conservation of paper, paintings or objects, including archaeological and ethnographic materials. Colin was the principal lecturer and Head of the Conservation of Cultural Materials. He stayed with the CCAE (later the University of Canberra) for 25 years. Continue reading…


Paul Philippot (1925 – 2016)

January 25, 2016

At his home in Brussels, on Friday morning, 15 January 2016, Paul Philippot passed away in sleep.

Philippot was one of the founders of ICCROM, serving as Deputy Director from 1959 to 1971, and as Director until 1977. He studied jurisprudence and art history, having doctorates in both subjects. When still a student, he also spent some months at the Italian Central Institute of Restoration (ICR) in Rome, where Cesare Brandi was Director, and wrote a dissertation on the institute’s organization and policies. After graduation he became professor of art history at Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in Brussels. When UNESCO decided to establish in a new organization in Rome (then called the “Rome Centre” and later ICCROM), the renowned British scientist H.J. Plenderleith was appointed the founding Director. Having learnt to appreciate Philippot’s critical thought, it was Brandi who recommended that Philippot as humanist should be invited to act as Deputy Director. Plenderleith and Philippot then shared the responsibilities of direction for twelve years.

In the first years, a large part of ICCROM’s work consisted of missions and scientific consultations at the request of UNESCO. Plenderleith thus frequently travelled advising on conservation issues. This also gave him the possibility to encourage new memberships. Philippot instead, developed the programmes and policies of the new organization, writing all the official reports and documents. In addition to collaboration with UNESCO, close contacts were established with ICOM, IIC and ICOMOS. One of the early projects for ICCROM was the Venice Conference of 1964. It was Paul Philippot who wrote the first introductory page to the Venice Charter. Furthermore, for several years, Philippot acted as Secretary to the international conservation committee of ICOM. Continue reading…


Jean-Paul L’Allier (1938 – 2016)

January 12, 2016

Jean-Paul L'Allier

Jean-Paul L’Allier, four-time mayor of Quebec City and founding member of the Organization of World Heritage Cities, has died. He was 77 years old.

Lauded as “a visionary who devoted his life to public service and helped make Quebec City an international tourist destination,” Mr L’Allier gathered mayors from 41 historic cities to found the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) at a conference in Fez, Morocco in 1993. This organization has served as a place of discussion for issues concerning the conservation and tourist usage of historic urban centres, particularly through its periodical conferences that have taken place in locations such as Bergen (1995), Puebla (2001), Rhodes (2003), Cusco (2005), Kazan (2007), Quito (2009), and many other cities.

Mr L’Allier served as President of the OWHC from its foundation until 1999. He also served as Mayor of Quebec City for sixteen years, from 1988 until 2004. Continue reading…