The Preservation of Exceptional Photographic Treasures in the Middle East
The Art Conservation Department at the University of Delaware in collaboration with the Arab Image Foundation (AIF), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Getty Conservation Institute are pleased to announce a three-year project to promote the preservation and awareness of photograph collections in the broad Middle East, from North Africa and the Arab Peninsula through Western Asia. The initiative is supported by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and funding from the Getty Conservation Institute.
The conservation and preservation of photography of the Middle East is still in its infancy despite the existence of many invaluable photograph collections. Collection assessments and surveys, carefully developed educational workshops from basic to advanced, and translations of key preservation texts are urgently needed to preserve the often under-valued photographic treasures from this region of the world. The scarcity of formally trained photograph conservators in this region makes the need for informed preservation professionals essential to care for the wealth of photographic heritage dating from the early nineteenth century to the present.
This ground-breaking initiative will
(1) identify significant photography collections in the region and
(2) develop, organize, and administer three eight-day Photograph Preservation Institutes tentatively planned for Beirut, Doha, and Cairo hosted by regional universities and cultural institutions. Each Institute will be combined with carefully monitored distance learning and final follow-up meetings to share insights, compare results, and plan for the future. It is anticipated that custodians of major photographic collections throughout the region will participate.
These combined initiatives will introduce and advance the practice of photograph preservation throughout the Middle East and promote photography in its diverse countries. As the initiative progresses, additional partners from the region may join the effort and expand its reach. Zeina Arida, AIF Director observes, “The Arab Image Foundation is pleased to be an integral part of this photograph preservation initiative. Among its many missions, the Foundation seeks to develop a community of all associated with photography and its exhibition, collection, and care. We look forward to partnering with colleagues and building momentum in the preservation of the many important repositories for photography that document and celebrate the history and culture of the Middle East.”
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