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Global Engagement: Scholarship, Teaching and Service Combined

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​Middle East Photograph Preservation Initiative workshop in Amman, Jordan​.

Our commitment to producing global preservation ambassadors is accomplished through continued support for international travel and scholarship. Institutional support and funds are expended, encouraging students to seek opportunities and engage in research that bridges societies, cultures and time periods. Faculty borrow objects requiring research or treatment from varied institutions and partners. Past and current students supported by Mellon funds have treated such objects as a Japanese bukaku mask, a Tibetan ritual drum from the Penn Museum, seal skin and fur mittens from the Explorer's Club, Christian Dior daywear heels from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and ancient Greek ceramics from the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum and Bryn Mawr College.

Our students' international activities contribute to increased mutual respect and civility for culture and people, just as their domestic internships preserve cultural contributions to American society. This work is a key component of our graduate education and training and connects preservation challenges across the US with those faced by colleagues worldwide. We ensure our students focus attention on deployment of practical preservation measures that consider geographic resources and limitations with examples and experiences throughout the curriculum. One example of this inspiration in practice is by current NEH Fellow Natalya Swanson, who is working with the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage to develop multilingual teaching didactics and packing strategies with locally sourced materials.

Beyond this, we are committed to ensuring our graduate curriculum is providing students with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to function in an ethnically and racially diverse nation and world. In partnership with the Office of Equity and Inclusion at UD, WUDPAC faculty have designed a longitudinal research study to assess the multicultural content of conservation coursework taught at WUDPAC, to assess and encourage the multicultural competency and critical reflection among our students, and to facilitate the addition of diverse perspectives into the conservation curriculum. The study is in its second year, with data collected from three cohorts of WUDPAC students, and initial curriculum consultations completed with WUDPAC faculty members. 

Our faculty are global experts, and many are working internationally to build capacity for the preservation of cultural heritage in underserved regions of the world. We are routinely asked to assist with course development from China to Brazil, Latvia, the United Kingdom, and Abu Dhabi. Global engagement is a focus of our program, and a key strategic priority for the University of Delaware. Local, national, and international preservation and research initiatives are increasingly interconnected through globalization and technological developments that facilitate idea exchange. This commitment to implementation and support for global partnerships in collections care is evident in the international travel projects in which students and alumni are actively engaged and which they share with the public through publications, exhibits, and social media. Examples include:

  • Creating, developing, and implementing the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage (IICAH) in Erbil, Iraq in collaboration with Winterthur Museum, the Walters Museum, University of Pennsylvania, University of Arizona, the Getty Conservation Institute, US State Department, Kurdistan Regional Government, the United States Embassy in Iraq, and the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities, among others. Our department, in partnership with the UD Institute for Global Studies and Winterthur, has helped lead the Iraqi Cultural Heritage Program in training 232 Iraqi cultural sector professionals since 2008. As part of this project, faculty and students have been instrumental in the development of curricula for a two-year training program in collections preservation and traveled to Erbil for its delivery. They are also active in the acquisition of books for the establishment of a central library at the Center. Our students assist with IICAH course development, preparing bibliographies and other didactic materials for use in the classroom. 
  • Partnering with colleagues at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, following the success of the collaborative Fengguosi Temple conservation project, in order to examine and assess 12th-century wall murals in a Tang Dynasty Buddhist temple in Shanxi, China planned for summer 2014.
  • Organizing a Kress-funded, two-week preventive conservation project in July 2013 and 2014 with colleagues at New York University at the Schloss Leopoldskron in Salzburg, Austria. Selected advanced students work with faculty to assess the preservation needs of the historic collections of works of art on paper, books, furniture, clocks, and paintings housed in the converted 18th-century castle and make recommendations connecting preservation with sustainability and use. 
  • Improving the preservation of photographic collections through regional educational programming in India, Columbia, Peru, Ireland, Eastern Europe, West Africa, and across the Middle East. In 2010, WUDPAC received a $560,000 award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to establish the Middle East Photograph Preservation Initiative (MEPPI) with the Arab Image Foundation (AIF) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This award supports collection assessments throughout the Middle East region and three, two-week institutes to be held in Egypt, Lebanon, and the United Emirates through 2014. Additional funds from the Getty Conservation Institute support e-learning and post-workshop training. As part of this project, a second-year WUDPAC Fellow developed a technical leaflet summarizing the basic tenets of photographic conservation in both English and Arabic that was posted on the AIF website and distributed to a large number of institutions across the Middle East ( Additional funding ($440,000) extends this project through 2017 with targeted preservation workshops and a 2017 symposium in collaboration with the AIF and the New York University Abu Dhabi to promote awareness of the photograph heritage in this region. A new project for Sub-Saharan Africa is underway with a workshop in pilot photograph conservation workshop held Benin in April 2014. Twenty-two participants from nine countries participated. A subsequent workshop is planned for Zimbabwe in 2016.
  • Contributing to a four-year initiative to establish a photograph conservation department at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. Our faculty continues to be involved in this project throughout its duration (end date 2014), teaching in both the United States and Russia sharing lessons learned with our students during their first and second year of study. 
  • Partnering with the Samuel H. Kress Foundation in the (1) preparation of a series of historically accurate reconstructions from paintings in the distributed Kress collection by Professor Brian Baade and Kristin DeGhetaldi, (2) the creation of a comprehensive technical website dedicated to the history and analysis of Old Master paintings, and (3) a five-day egg tempera workshop that provided museum professionals from Kress collections with a complete reconstruction and educational kits containing raw materials (e.g. pigment samples, gold leaf, etc.). The workshop and website have been especially beneficial to several Kress institutions and accessed globally. Many continue to use the website as an instructional aid in lecture series and other educational events, and some have created permanent exhibition spaces to display their reconstructions and raw material samples.

Art conservation students are encouraged to study abroad and have completed summer work projects and third-year internships in Turkey, Poland, Australia, Canada, Israel, Great Britain, Greece, the Netherlands, Spain, Denmark, Poland, and China. Qualified international applicants are mentored to pursue graduate degrees, and WUDPAC and PSP have accepted students from Costa Rica, Japan, Mexico, Taiwan, Russia, Uruguay, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Denmark, and Vietnam. Finally, visiting scholars from Bhutan, Bolivia, China, Croatia, and Ecuador have taken part in our graduate courses, providing unique perspectives that inspire our students with their viewpoints and skills, while gaining access to professional training and career development not otherwise available in their home countries; a scholar from Egypt joined us for the photographic materials block in January 2015.

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Global Engagement: Scholarship, Teaching and Service Combined
  • The Department of Art Conservation
  • 303 Old College
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-3489