International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property
First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Haiti

First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Haiti

23 August – 10 September 2010

A pilot ICCROM course on First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Haiti, held at the Cultural Recovery Centre in Port-au-Prince, was successfully concluded on Friday 10 September 2010.

This course was organized within the framework of the Haiti Cultural Recovery Project, a joint project of the Smithsonian Institution and the Government of Haiti. The activity was implemented in cooperation with the Canadian Conservation Institute and the Central Institute of Conservation in Belgrade.

The three-week course focused on providing first aid to endangered collections in Haiti. These collections are either still buried under the rubble or are in boxes, shipping containers, or temporary storage facilities. The course addressed issues related to the conservation of collections in the above-mentioned contexts. The topics included the identification of deterioration agents, documentation, first aid treatment, emergency preparedness and response, and creating safe storage spaces for collections.

The 26 participants, of which two were observers, represented 15 different cultural institutions of Haiti whose buildings and collections were either completely or partially damaged by the earthquake of 12 January 2010. The training provided the participants with knowledge and skills to enable them to:

  • recognize materials in their collections and identify deterioration agents;
  • carry out basic documentation;
  • identify and prioritize conservation options;
  • create conditions to allow maximum protection for collections in their present location;
  • rearrange their collections to enable access;
  • work in teams and share the knowledge acquired during the course.

The course included several hands-on training sessions and practical group activities. These included salvaging the collections of the Centre d’Art, Port-au-Prince, that were buried under the rubble of its fallen building. Used as a case study, this activity was carried with the help of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

The participants were also involved in stabilizing the rest of the collections of the Centre d’Art, that had been salvaged and stored in a shipping container immediately after the earthquake by the centre's staff. This exercise involved creating a temporary but secure storage space within the Cultural Recovery Centre, and developing a workflow for stabilizing, documenting and storing collections.

During the final days of the course, participants focused on their own institutions and prepared action plans for making incremental improvements in the conservation conditions of their respective collections. Participants’ projects will be monitored by ICCROM’s partner institutions in Haiti.

Member States represented: Haiti, Canada, Serbia, United States