Projects in Focus

Knowledge Projects

PHOTO: “Chinese horse” cave painting at Lascaux. @ Gaël de Guichen / ICCROM Archive

Tracking Trends Works to Close Data Gap for Heritage Conservation

Tracking Trends is a two-year pilot project and preliminary step towards addressing the heritage conservation data gap. The project draws upon work ICCROM has carried out over the past two years to trace current trends in heritage research and training. By gathering strategic data on sector capacity, knowledge production and emerging issues of concern, the project aims to inform policy and provide evidence for ways heritage can contribute to sustainable development.

At a brainstorming meeting held on 13–14 February, a small interdisciplinary group from the fields of cultural heritage, conservation, digital humanities, social sciences and data science convened to share perspectives on what questions to prioritize, and how the project can use data more strategically to answer those questions. Taking the relationship between cultural heritage and sustainable development as a starting point for discussion, the group focused on key parameters for collection, methods for data capture and analysis, and insights that can be gained from that work.

Two exploratory missions followed the initial conversations. One discussed a potential research project between the University of Gothenburg, the Swedish National Heritage Agency (RAÄ) and the Swedish Agency of Cultural Policy Analysis. Another met with staff of Historic England to gain insight into the organization’s Heritage Counts initiative.

Literature Review of Heritage and Sustainable Development

Over 2018, as part of the Tracking Trends pilot project, a bibliometric study was undertaken to review open access literature on heritage and sustainable development to identify key areas of contribution to the UN sustainable development goals. Going forward, the results of this study will inform further work to identify practice principles for enhancing sustainability and potential indicators of social impact.

Vilnius Document with JPICH

In September 2018, ICCROM signed a joint statement with the Joint Programming Initiative on Cultural Heritage (JPICH) on Enhancing Heritage Research Participation and Impact. The statement calls for greater stakeholder participation and more effective knowledge sharing to enhance research impact. The statement arose out of a workshop on the role of JPICHfunded research projects on heritage practice, held on 28-29 September 2017 in Vilnius, Lithuania. JPICH coordinates national priorities for heritage research across 18 European countries.

New Conservation Resources Now Available in Open Access

The ICCROM Library is providing a constantly growing set of open access conservation resources through its catalogue interface. These include papers from the 2011–2017 triennial meetings of the International Conservation Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM-CC), as well as a multitude of scholarly and peer-reviewed research journals, all freely available at no charge.

The recent ICOM-CC triennial meetings are also linked to ICCROM's library catalogue interface. Open access journals can be found through ICCROM’s searchable Electronic Journals Library service by clicking on the EZB icon on the ICCROM Library catalogue.

Gaël de Guichen Donates Archive

On 10 October, Director-General Webber Ndoro and Gaël de Guichen signed an agreement for the donation of Mr de Guichen’s archive to ICCROM. The aim is to ensure both conservation and access to researchers of these valuable records.

ICCROM is honoured to receive this archive, which spans from 1957 to 2018. The ca. 20 linear meters of materials include a rich photographic collection depicting heritage deterioration caused by natural and human agents, especially in museum collections, obtained from 55 countries located all over the world.

Mora Collection Project Preserves Delicate Samples

The Mora Sample Collection is an important archive of samples and fragments of historic wall paintings collected from heritage sites around the world. It is the legacy of two internationally renowned restorers, Paolo and Laura Mora, who collected these materials during ICCROM technical missions and conservation projects from the 1960s to the 1980s. The archive today comprises some 1 300 samples from 36 countries.

This project, undertaken by ICCROM together with the HERCULES Laboratory of the University of Évora, Portugal, seeks to safeguard the sample collection, documenting and rehousing often extremely fragile and delicate materials, and to make it available online for future scholars.

Project staff have made substantial progress. They have photographically documented the entire collection, collected available data and rehoused numerous samples. The design of the online catalogue is also under way.

Colleagues at the HERCULES Laboratory made a short video that offers a glimpse inside the Mora Sample Collection. See the project team at work at glimpse-inside-iccrom-mora-sample-collection.

InterPARES Collaboration Yields New Scholarship

ICCROM signed an agreement in 2012 with the University of British Columbia, Canada, to participate as a partner in the international research project, InterPARES Trust (ITrust). ( The project, which has developed research in the field of preservation of authentic digital records to support accountability and memory, ends in February 2019. The ITrust Europe and the Transnational teams both worked with the ICCROM archive in developing research findings on two studies: “Policies for recordkeeping and digital preservation: Recommendations for analysis and assessment services” and “The impact of the Italian legal framework for cloud computing on electronic recordkeeping and digital preservation systems.” Articles on these topics will be included in the InterPARES Trust final book publication in 2019.

Library Inventory Project Continues

At end 2018 staff began an inventory project of the ICCROM Library’s full monographic collections. They divided the collection (ca. 500 linear meters of books) into three sections to facilitate shelf reading and recorded the results to locate missing, misplaced or damaged books and cataloguing gaps. Staff identified some rare books, while damaged books were sorted out for repair, and monographs containing photographic prints or other vulnerable materials (samples etc.) were set aside for transfer to a climate-controlled area in the ICCROM Archive. The project will result in better maintenance and control of the Library book collections.

1961–2003 Publications Now Online

A wealth of conservation knowledge and expertise is contained in ICCROM’s many past publications. Previously, resources published prior to 2003 were largely inaccessible because the books were difficult to obtain.

ICCROM, in collaboration with its many partner organizations and network of contributors, has finalized a scanning project to make these publications available online. The result provides a history of the development of conservation thinking and trends in the profession, as seen through the prism of ICCROM. Copyright was managed through a silence procedure taking place in 2014–2016.

The digital versions are available on the ICCROM website, available for free download under a Creative Commons 3.0 license (BY-NC-ND). ICCROM thanks all its community for their support of this scanning project, which has given new life to past knowledge collaborations, furthering the organization’s educational and training mandates while sowing seeds to stimulate new conservation research.

CeROArt Project Seeks to Automate Cataloguing

The Library has developed a data ingestion project in collaboration with the open access journal CeROArt. The goal of this project is to serve as a prototype for the automatic cataloguing of other online journals of particular interest in the field of conservation. Importing these bibliographic records directly into ICCROM’s Library Catalogue will provide quicker access to scholarship for the research community.

CeROArt is a web journal and online platform dedicated to pluridisciplinary approaches in issues of conservation, exhibition and conservation of works of art. (See Special Feature: Knowledge)



PHOTO: Film cans and videotapes. @ ICCROM / ICCROM Archive