03.06.2011 - UNESCO Venice Office

A Participant's Perspective : ICCROM 17th International Course on Stone Conservation

The ICCROM 17th International Course on Stone Conservation began on 13 April and will be run up through 1 July 2011. Partners are ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property), the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI), United States and the UNESCO Venice Office. Twenty participants from 20 different countries are attending the course which adopts a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach and is designed for professionals involved in the conservation of historic stone structures and artifacts, and some 25 resource persons are collaborating.

One of the participants, Alice Custance-Baker, a Building Materials Analyst for the Scottish Lime Centre Trust, is keeping a blog on her experiences as a participant on the Stone Course:

"We are just about to complete the 7th week of the Stone Course and time seems to be moving very fast. Having looked at theories and issues in the first few weeks, we're now onto treatments and solutions, which is drawing everything we've learned together. The course has provided a great mix of lectures, lab and practical sessions and site visits from Day One. The lab and practical sessions have allowed us to take a hands-on approach to the observations and analysis of the materials that we've been discussing which so far includes stone, lime-based mortars and salts analysis.

On 26 May, we were very privileged to go behind the scenes in the Vatican to visit the stone restoration workshop, unopened parts of the museum and to go on site at the Colonnade surrounding Piazza San Pietro to observe the conservation work currently being undertaken. We have also been assigned worksites within the non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome, which we have been visiting throughout the course to diagnose the deterioration and conservation issues. In the eleventh week of the course we will be spending a full week on this project to implement our solutions. We will also be integrating our laboratory analyses of some of the stonework and the biological growth on our structures where possible.

On Sunday we began our study tour of Northern Italy and I look forward to seeing many of the things we've discussed in the classroom in action. This course has really reinforced my understanding of the need for us to work in interdisciplinary teams when dealing with stone conservation. In addition, the international perspectives that we've been able to share among the participants and lecturers has shown us that we all have much to learn from each other on many common issues."

Photos : © Alice Custance-Baker

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