CollAsia is an educational programme aiming to empower heritage collections professionals in Southeast Asia. It focuses on continuous professional development activities (CPD) to improve conservation conditions for Southeast Asian collections.
The CollAsia programme was developed at the request of Member States of ICCROM in 2003. ICCROM and the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts, widely known as SEAMEO-SPAFA, launched the CollAsia program with the financial support of the Getty Foundation. Since 2012, CollAsia continues thanks to the generous support of the Korean Cultural Heritage Administration, which has provided ICCROM with the core founding for ongoing CollAsia activities.
The current focus of the CollAsia training activities within the CHA-ICCROM collaboration is Traditional Knowledge and Scientific Principles of Conservation. In recent years there has been rising interest in exploring and promoting use of traditional and local materials and methods in conservation. Reducing the dependence on imported materials leads to lowering costs, and establishes opportunities for long-term collaboration with local producers and industries. Incorporating traditional ways of working into heritage conservation practices highlights the links with the living heritage of craft traditions and other specialists from outside the formal heritage field. These traditional methods must nonetheless be understood in conjunction with more modern scientific principles of conservation developed over the past 40 to 50 years.
All CollAsia activities develop critical thinking, decision-making skills and scientific literacy among the diverse professionals caring for Southeast Asian heritage collections. A key priority is to move away from the notion of fixed recipes and ready-made solutions. An objective common to all CollAsia courses is to stimulate professionals to develop and carry out applied research to solve specific conservation challenges in their institutions.
According to participants’ feedback, the strengths of the CollAsia program are its interactive and engaging approaches, its ability to provide a framework for thinking and doing, and its comprehensive and integrated perspective on conservation issues. Participants leave the courses with a strong motivation to learn further and look ahead.