First Aid to Nepalese Cultural Heritage affected by recent earthquakes

ICOMOS-ICCROM-ICOM and Smithsonian Institution collaborate on First Aid to Nepalese Cultural Heritage affected by recent earthquakes.

Following post-earthquake reconnaissance mission to Nepal, ICOMOS along with ICCROM, ICOM and the Smithsonian Institution and the Department of Archaeology, Government of Nepal in close cooperation with UNESCO Kathmandu office, recently organized an initiative for “First Aid to Nepalese Cultural Heritage for Recovery and Risk Reduction” from 8th to 24th June 2015. This was financially supported by ICCROM, the Smithsonian Institution and the Prince Claus Foundation, Netherlands.

The initiative composed of two main workshops aimed at building the capacity of Nepalese institutions, professionals and other stakeholders such as Army and Police to undertake salvage, handling and storage of heritage fragments and museum collections and emergency stabilisation of heritage structures damaged by recent earthquakes. The emergency intervention was necessitated by increasing vulnerability of heritage due to frequent aftershocks and approaching monsoons.
The first workshop on salvage and storage of collections was aimed at the staff of various public and private museums and sites. During this workshop, lectures, site demonstrations and field exercises were organized at the National Chauni Museum on documentation, evacuation and salvage, packing, handling and storage of collections. Actual salvaging operation of collections from Hanuman Dhoka Palace Museum in Kathmandu Durbar Square architectural fragments in Hanuman Dhoka World Heritage Monument Zone was also undertaken by the staff of the department of archaeology, army and police was also guided by the mission experts. A half day special session was also organized for Army and Police.

The second workshop on Emergency Stabilisation and Salvage of Heritage Structures was aimed at building the capacity of engineers and craftsmen to undertake temporary stabilisation of heritage structures through sharing of key concepts, methodologies and techniques. The first two days of the workshop aimed at conducting rapid damage assessment through lectures, site visits and field exercises in the traditional settlement of Sankhu and World Heritage Monument Zones of Changu Narayan and Bhaktapur. During the third day, lectures and classroom exercises were conducted on approaches and techniques for stabilisation of heritage structures through various international examples. Practical implementation of damage assessment and stabilisation was undertaken at Anantapur temple in Swyambhu World Heritage Monument Zone during last two days of the workshop. The workshop was immensely successful and helped in developing understanding and cooperation among craftsmen and engineers for undertaking emergency interventions for earthquake damaged heritage structures in Nepal.

A special one day site orientation on salvage and storage of architectural fragments from damaged heritage structures was also conducted in Sankhu for young local volunteers in cooperation with local community based organizations.
ICOMOS was represented by its international Scientific Committee on Risk Preparedness (ICORP) members, Rohit Jigyasu, Xavier Romão and Esmeralda Paupério and ICOMOS India member, Arun Menon. Aparna Tandon and Corine Wegner participated in the initiative on behalf of ICCROM and the Smithsonian Institution respectively. Several local Nepalese experts also actively collaborated with international experts.
As a follow up of these workshops, guidelines and manuals for emergency interventions to earthquake damaged heritage sites and collections in Nepal is envisioned in close cooperation with the Department of Archaeology, Government of Nepal.

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