Heritage Preservation Atelier conducted a 3 days Workshop/congress in Chandigarh

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. Rajwanti Mann

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.

Dr. Jaspal Kaur

Curator Seema Gera, shared her concern for lack of staff and expertise. Main challenges for a museum that Seema describes are:

  1. Collection policy is not in place.
  2. Environment inside the museum needs to be preventive and safe for the collection on display.
  3. Insufficient gallery attending staff as the visitors in our country are not sensitive enough for the care of heritage objects on display.
Ms. Seema Gera

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.

Ar. Deepika Gandhi

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.

Harpreet presenting a case study
Lea and Harpreet during a break

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.

Author: namitajaspal
Namita Jaspal, with inherited skills of art and aesthetics and passion for science, opted to pursue post- graduation in ‘Conservation of Cultural Property’ after her graduation in Science from Delhi University in 1992. Four year intense training at National Museum Institute provided the right foundation to start a career in Conservation. She is currently practicing conservation consultancy for Heritage property including monuments and collections. She has been doing independent research in conservation techniques and procedures in Indian context. She is currently working on the conservation of wall-paintings of Sri Harmandir Sahib Ji (The Golden temple at Amritsar. The project is nearing completion and getting a lot of appreciation for the organized and ethical treatment it is providing. It is for the first time in the history of Sri Harmandir Sahib Ji (The Golden Temple) that wall painting conservation and preservation is being done in a scientific manner, keeping the codes of Ethics into consideration while decision making. Another project just completed is of the Conservation of Krishna Temple at Kishankot, Gurdaspur, Punjab. In her private Conservation Laboratory, she is not only providing onservation services, but also mentoring young aspiring conservators and archaeologists by the way of training and paid internships. She has been a guest lecturer at DIHRM (Delhi Institute of Heritage Research and Management). With all the updated knowledge database and innovative practical approaches relevant to the Indian conditions, she could successfully do curative and preservative treatment of very old textiles like a nine feet long flag from nineteenth century that is regarded as priceless memorabilia of second Dogra regiment at Chandi Mandir, and four hundred years old (seventeenth century) Chola Sahib Ji of Sixth Guru of Sikhs, Sri Hargobind Sahib Ji. Apart from this she has done conservation of Photograph collections, archival records, numerous paintings, manuscripts and other cultural objects. She is also involved in preparation of up-gradation proposals for museums and such organizations. Her expertise includes Conservation and preservation technologies and procedures for conservation of varied material like wall paintings, paper, photographs, textile, ceramics, stone, metal and archaeological objects.

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