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In August and September 2017, meetings took place in Argentina related to the preservation of contemporary art and to sound and image conservation.  These activities support both the regional LATAM initiative for conservation of heritage in Latin America and the SOIMA programme for Sound and Image Collections Conservation promoted by ICCROM.

Marcelo Pombo, Winco, 1986, Col. Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Nº Inventario 11982
©MNBA - Marcelo Pombo, Winco, 1986, Col. Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Nº Inventario 11982

A pilot needs assessment survey for conservation management of contemporary art collections

Over 2017, ICCROM together the Dirección Nacional de Bienes y Sitios Culturales (DNBSC), Ministry of Culture, Argentina developed and carried out a pilot survey of museums with contemporary art collections and their umbrella institutions in Argentina on national, provincial and local levels. The results highlights the key issues museums meet with this kind of collections, including their quick growth (collections double in 30 years), the intense loaning and lending activities that affect 80% of the museums, and common challenges including overcrowded storage, conservation of new materials, and legislation and policy needs. The results of the pilot survey will be used to extend the data collection to other countries in the region, in the goal of organizing a training initiative in 2018-2019.

The survey results were also presented at the National Meeting on Conservation of Contemporary Art, held on 15 September at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires.  Twenty conservators, curators, art historians, scientists and artists discussed contemporary art conservation challenges and shared various innovative projects with 180 participants from eleven countries.

The meeting found that the conservation of cultural assets plays an important role in the management of cultural assets in heritage institutions and must guarantee the development of different collections. The conservation of collections of contemporary art, with its many techniques and materials, represents a great challenge for the professional dedicated to these activities due to the multiplicity of materials – both organic and inorganic – that are used for the creation of the artworks.

From traditional materials to synthetic polymers or metal alloys, and even the incorporation of living organisms – these are just a few examples of the multiple challenges facing the conservation of contemporary art.  These must be considered together with the approach of the new expressions and formats that have confronted the arts from the second half of the last century, such as sound, video, digital art, and others, as well as the need to understand traditional technique in depth.

The meeting aimed to:

  • Encourage debate and exchange on the challenges of conservation of new manifestations and contemporary art materials
  • Establish a space for dialogue between professionals of different institutions in charge of contemporary art collections
  • Agree on basic principles for the conservation of contemporary art collections
  • Analyze research experiences on the behaviour of different materials that make up the works and their treatment
  • Agree on working practices in different institutional contexts (technical reservation, exhibition hall, transfer).

Based on the very positive response to this meeting, a follow-up meeting is being planned for September 2018.

LatAm Argentina

This meeting was organized by DNBSC under the patronage of ICCROM, together with the Programa ACERCA-AECID, the Ministry for Cooperation and International Affairs of Spain (Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores y de Cooperación de España), and the Cultural Advisory of the Spanish Embassy in Argentina (Consejería Cultural de la Embajada de España en Argentina).

Sound and Image preservation and Workshop on Conservation of physical and visual images: the case of negatives and photographic prints on different supports

From 7 – 9 August 2017, two related meetings were held at the University of San Luis in Argentina, focusing on preservation of sounds and images.  They were organized by the National Directorate of Cultural Assets and Sites, in collaboration with the National University of San Luis and the “José La Via” Photographic Collection at the Faculty of Physical, Mathematical and Natural Sciences of the National University of San Luis.

Over the past ten years, the conservation of cultural heritage in the Argentine Republic has benefited from an increasing professionalization and dissemination of the discipline. Both public and private organizations have contributed, through lectures, courses, campaigns, training in updated collections management techniques to the personnel in charge of the custody of the different collections, and in disseminating and raising public awareness in aspects of heritage care.

To further these developments, the National Directorate of Cultural Assets and Sites together with the National University of San Luis proposed a conference in order to sensitize the participants and share tools for the preservation of audio, photo and video files in analogue and digital format.

More than 175 participants attended lectures on 7 August by specialists from Argentina and Mexico who presented topics related to the value and meaning of audiovisual collections, photographic and film supports, digitalization of audio-video-photo content and digital and analogue preservation, and the tools available for the preservation of audio, photo and video files in analogue and digital format.

As a complementary training activity, on 8 – 9 August, 75 participants attended the workshop entitled “Conservation of physical and visual images: the case of negatives and photographic impressions on different media” given by Fernando Osorio Alarcón, Member of the Technology Subcommittee of the Memory of the World Program, UNESCO, who was invited by the Faculty of Physical, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, National University of San Luis.

The meeting therefore aimed to respond to training needs in aspects related to the conservation of sound and image collections. The main objectives included:

  • Disseminate fundamental principles for the conservation of memory protected in visual and audiovisual collections
  • Consolidate the fundamental concepts of the tasks of a photographic and audiovisual archive
  • Provide updated methodological resources related to identification, registration, inventory, cataloguing and conservation of image and sound files, according to format and materiality.

This August 2017 meeting was based on the Meeting on Preservation of Sound and Image Collections and the Workshop on Preservation of Sound and Image Collections that took place from 30 Nov to 2 December 2016 at the National Library in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Seventy participants, among them managers, conservators, archivists, technicians who currently work in universities, archives, libraries, museums, television channels and research institutes in Argentina, Mexico and Uruguay took part in the three-day event.

The meeting helped provide to planners on a national level a better understanding the local scenario as regards the conservation of sounds and moving images. The high response to the events reflects the need for training and capacity building to understand and communicate the value, meaning, selection and use of sound and image collections in various institutional contexts, in the aim of formulating conservation actions. An anonymous survey completed by the participants had confirmed their interest in future specific training activities.

This meeting was organized by Dirección Nacional de Bienes y Sitios Culturales, Secretaría de Patrimonio Cultural, Ministerio de Cultura, Argentina, and the Biblioteca Nacional “Mariano Moreno”, Secretaría de Cultura y Creatividad, Ministerio de Cultura, Argentina, under the patronage of ICCROM.

Additional institutions participating in the 2016 event were the Dirección Nacional de Investigación Cultural, Secretaría de Patrimonio Cultural, Ministerio de Cultura; Instituto Nacional de Musicología “Carlos Vega”, Dirección Nacional de Investigación Cultural,Secretaría de Patrimonio Cultural, Ministerio de Cultura;  Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales – INCAA, Ministerio de Cultura; Archivo General de la Nación, Ministerio del Interior, Obras Públicas y Vivienda; Televisión Pública, Radio y Televisión Argentina; Museo del Cine “Pablo Ducrós Hicken”, Dirección General de Patrimonio, Museos y Casco Histórico, Ministerio de Cultura de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires; Centro de Estudios Históricos e Investigación de Parque España; CEHIPE, AECID, Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores y de Cooperación, Rosario, Argentina; and the Centro de Fotografía de la Intendencia de Montevideo, Uruguay.

Member States represented: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, France, Mexico, Spain, Uruguay and Venezuela

Non-Member State: Costa Rica