Culture: the cry of men in face of their destiny
Published on 10 June 2010
Susan Blakney, a senior painting conservator at Westlake Conservators and two other conservators visited a dozen museums
Susan Blakney, a senior painting conservator at Westlake Conservators and member of the AIC Collections Emergency Response Team (AIC-CERT), traveled to Haiti May 4-8 to help conduct an assessment of the country’s artwork damaged by the January earthquake.
Despite the devastation, Blakney feels sure the artworls can be restored
Blakney and two other conservators visited a dozen museums, which she says have made great strides in retrieving and storing damaged artwork. She describes seeing 500 paintings that were stacked “in a pile like pancakes” awaiting conservation care. Haitians are anxious to save their paintings, which are one of their “national loves and largest exports,” she said. However, the country doesn’t have the materials to conserve the “vivid, colorful, and thematic” artworks that are part of their social history, she says. Conservators will be needed for many years to help restore the country’s artwork and to train Haitian artists on conservation techniques. Blakney is certain that the paintings she assessed can be restored to exhibition standards.
Blakney saw stacks of paintings in desparate need of care
Blakney was part of emergency conservation team sent to Haiti by the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) with support from IMLS. These efforts are part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Haitian Cultural Recovery Project, which is also receiving support from the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Broadway League. The U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield, a nonprofit, non-governmental organization dedicated to the protection of cultural property affected by conflict or natural disasters, is serving as the international coordinator of this conservation effort. Haiti’s Ministry of Culture and Communication and the Haitian President’s Commission for Reconstruction led the effort for Haiti.
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