Heritage and its conservation/preservation are both not very well understood by us. This is understandable, because, we lag behind in care and understanding of even more important and basic areas of life, like environment, waste-management, religion etc. In any case, each and every profession has to develop and grow in a positive way irrespective of the situations around in other fields of work.
Unlike a general belief that Heritage and its conservation is not something basic required by a society/community and can be neglected as there are more important works to be looked upon, i think, Heritage conservation creates opportunity of skill development, employment, economic growth via tourism, improved and more relevant education and much more.
We have been organizing workshops since 2010, but this time we wanted to keep it small but relevant. 10 participants were selected from various states of India and the sessions were so interesting and interactive that there was not a single moment when any of the participants was not attentive and engrossed in the discussion/lecture/practical activity.
We had participants from Hyderabad, Pune, Gujrat, Rajasthan and Punjab.
Session 1 of Day 1 was a panel discussion with experts, who have handled collections and archives since long and they all shared their concerns, issues and solutions too. Almost everyone in the panel was of the opinion that heritage is not understood properly by people in general and authorities as well. Heritage objects (as compared to heritage buildings) are least understood in terms of their value and need for up-keep in a highly professional way.
Dr. Rajwanti Mann shared her vast experience with managing archives. She has been the director of Haryana archives for a very long time before she retired a couple of months back. She had many solutions for other museums and archives. She talked about the need of expertise on conservation of the variety of material found in archives. she was of the opinion that indigenous methods of preservation should be studied and used for collection care.
Dr. Jaspal Kaur shared here experience with management, upkeep and importance of display of collections that tell history and stories of a community. She is currently principal of Dev Samaj college, Sector 45.
Curator Seema Gera, shared her concern for lack of staff and expertise. Main challenges for a museum that Seema describes are:
- Collection policy is not in place.
- Environment inside the museum needs to be preventive and safe for the collection on display.
- Insufficient gallery attending staff as the visitors in our country are not sensitive enough for the care of heritage objects on display.
Ar. Deepika Gandhi was also extremely concerned about insensitivity in general regarding Heritage. According to her, it is extremely difficult to explain and sensitize concerned staff and officials regarding the importance of special tools required for the preservation of the heritage objects. Challenges faced at her museums are:
1. The unique type of material that needs conservation treatment urgently
2. Information and formalities required for funding for the preservation and conservation of the collection.
3. Lack of staff.
I, myself had my opinions from conservation and preventive conservation point of view. My major emphasis was on preventive conservation.
Participants were very keen and actively participated in the conversation.
On Day 2 was interesting as the participants got to learn the material and method of making archival boxes.
Lea and Harpreet from ‘The Shekhawati Project” had interesting experiences to share regarding wall painting conservation in the form of presentation of case studies from Italy and Rajasthan.
Day 3 was a visit to the Architecture museum and then a brain-storming session with a particular emphasis on preventive conservation and basics of quantitative laboratory work.