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ICCROM Courses

ATHAR Programme - Regional Course on Conservation of Organic Materials in Heritage Sites and Collections

Under the patronage of H.H. Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah and Member of the Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates.

Dates: 26 April 16 May 2011

Place: Sharjah,  United Arab Emirates


Background and aims
The Regional Course on Conservation and Management of Heritage Sites and Museum Collections: Organic Materials of the ATHAR Programme aims at building the capacity of conservation professionals in the Arab Region in the field of cultural heritage conservation, with a specific focus on organic materials, including wood and timber constructions, paper, manuscripts and textiles, found in built heritage and museum collections.

Course objectives and expected results
The purpose of this course is to strengthen the capacity of the participants in:

Preventive conservation by:

  • understanding and evaluating the conditions within the different types of organic materials in historic buildings and museum collections;
  • developing strategies for achieving appropriate conditions for organic heritage materials and collections;
  • exploring conceptual and practical tools of risk assessment, and the principles of surveying and monitoring collections as well as historic structures in their environment.

Material conservation knowledge by:

  • understanding mechanical and chemical characteristics of organic materials and their deterioration processes;
  • understanding appropriate treatments of dampness and infestation taking into consideration the advantages & disadvantages of each;
  • recognising priorities for appropriate conservation and treatment interventions of wood and timber constructions, paper, manuscripts and textiles.

Course structure
This is the first of a three part phase course. The three phases of the course are:

Phase 1: workshop
The course will begin with a three-week workshop to take place in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates from 26 April to 16 May 2011.  During this phase, participants will be exposed to key issues related to the conservation and management of organic materials in heritage sites and museums, as described above.

During the workshop, practical work will centre on a case study in Sharjah, a historic building adapted to house museum collections.  By the end of this phase, participants will develop, with the assistance of the instructors, a project of practical work that they will pursue in their own countries during Phase 2 of the course (below).  The work project will aim for practical improvements in each participant’s working context and specific professional responsibilities.  

Phase 2: applied project
This phase will take place from 25 May to 25 October 2011.  During this phase participants will adapt and apply learning they acquired during the workshop to their own work place, carrying out their respective work assignments and submitting progress reports according to a monthly schedule.  Throughout this time, instructors and participants will serve as resources to provide information exchange and guidance as required. 

Although participants are likely to find that much of the practical work for Phase 2 can be carried out as part of their regular job responsibilities, they may find that some tasks may require extra time.  Participants should therefore plan to dedicate time each month pursuing their project work and accessing the course webpage. A course webpage will serve as a platform for maintaining contact with other participants, and for submitting progress reports, exchanging information and developing further knowledge, skills and contacts.  

Phase 3: review meeting
Provided funding is available, the course concludes with a Review Meeting at the end of Phase 2 (exact date, venue and programme to be announced).

Please note that participants are required to take part in all three phases of the course.  A certificate of attendance will be given to those participants who successfully complete all phases of the course.

Participants and admission
The course is intended for 20 to 25 participants with varied profiles (archaeologists, architects, art historians, collections and site managers, conservators-restorers, conservation scientists, curators, directors of museums, galleries and archives, etc.) from the Arab states. Priority will be given to those who have participated in the previous ICCROM’s ATHAR Core Regional Courses. Admission to the course will be subject to selection criteria including:

  • Professional background: at least a BA in a relevant field of study.
  • Letter of intent: candidates are requested to provide a letter stating clearly the reasons for applying to the course, what they hope to learn from it, and how it will benefit them and their institution, country, or future employer.
  • Employment: priority is given to government employees or government-affiliated professionals.
  • Work experience: those who have already gained at least 3 years of practical and research experience in the field will have priority.
  • Financial resources/support: a request for financial support, or the availability of other sources, should be indicated in the application form. The organizing institutions will provide financial support only upon request (subject to evaluation), to cover accommodation, meals and travel to Sharjah during the course.
  • Insurance: all participants should also have health and accident insurance. Upon selection, they should return to ICCROM a signed medical and accident participant's release form.
  • Working languages: the working languages will be both Arabic and English. Proficiency in English will be required particularly for research work and reading of reference materials.
  • Applications: please use the application form available on this web site. Applications should be endorsed by the relevant ministry (Ministry of Culture or Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities) in the candidate’s home country. The completed forms should be sent to the following address:

ATHAR Programme
Via di San Michele, 13
00153 Rome
Email: athar (at) iccrom . org

Application deadline: 31 January 2011    

Please note that any applications received after this deadline will not be considered in the selection process of candidates for this course.

The main partner institutions will make the final selection of applicants according to these requirements. A certificate of attendance will be given to those participants who will successfully complete the course cycle, of one foundation course and the two specialized courses.