The Getty Conservation Institute - Field Projects

Program for fiscal year 2003 (July 2002 to June 2003)


Purpose and Principles

The Getty Conservation Institute aims to advance conservation practice worldwide through the development and implementation of model field projects which incorporate strong research, planning and educational objectives. In all projects, the GCI works with local partners so as to build local expertise and ensure sustainability. The Institute broadly disseminates information resulting from its project work through training, publications and its web site:

All projects follow recognized international principles of conservation and adhere to the highest standards of practice. These include an understanding of the cultural significance of the object or site, respect for the multiplicity of values associated with it, thorough documentation and diagnostic research, and intervention which is minimal, compatible, and appropriate to local circumstances.

Project Design

Projects are chosen based on a consideration of both the needs of the conservation field and the GCI's own experience and expertise. The Institute may be approached by a potential partner or may sometimes identify possible partners in areas of work in which it has an interest. Field projects are considered on the basis of the significance of the conservation problem to be addressed, the potential research or training opportunities, and the demonstrated willingness of local and national authorities to collaborate on the project. Initial contact is followed by a feasibility study during which all the conceptual and practical parameters of the project are evaluated. Chosen projects are then designed in cooperation with project partners and implemented according to a phased work plan.

All projects are unique in some respect and vary in emphasis, complexity, and scope. However, all adhere to a consistent methodology which includes documentation and recording, diagnostic research and assessment, the development and testing of conservation treatments and strategies, implementation, and, finally, dissemination and training.

By their nature, field projects are multidisciplinary, bringing together specialists from the arts and the sciences to exchange ideas and develop creative and sustainable solutions for preserving our cultural heritage. Current project teams consist of GCI (and sometimes other Getty) staff, representatives of partner organizations, and external consultants. They include archaeologists, conservators, curators, engineers, architects, art historians, biologists, geologists, chemists, city planners, surveyors, museum administrators, and site managers.

F. LeBlanc, Head of Field Projects


Maya Initiative

(Project Leader: Françoise Descamps)

The Maya Initiative addresses important and complementary issues for the conservation of cultural heritage within the Maya region. The project stems from previous GCI contributions and requests from authorities of the region and aims to reinforce and develop conservation practices through collaborative efforts in order to resolve common problems in the region. To date the project focuses on two specific areas:

1. development of management planning practices for archeological sites and

2. development of methodological approaches to the conservation of building materials found in the Maya region.

It is proposed to organize in 2003 a meeting of the countries that signed the Merida 1998 Agreement.

The objective of the meeting will be to present the results of the work undertaken at Joya de Cerén and Copán, to analyze the collaborative process and to discuss the follow-up activities and the means to undertake them in the perspective of a regional effort. Activities of specific interest for the GCI will be proposed:

· training in the conservation practice for the maintenance and conservation of earthen and stone buildings, and

· the dissemination and discussion of the site management processes and practices in the region.

On-going research on environmental conditions and materials conservation will continue in collaboration with the GCI Science Department.

Maya - Copan, Honduras

(Project Manager: Françoise Descamps)

The analytic work and condition survey of the Copán Hieroglyphic Stairway were completed in 2002. Environmental monitoring, treatment tests and the development of a conservation strategy began during 2002. Implementation of the conservation strategy and training of local managers, technicians and maintenance staff are scheduled for 2003.

Maya - Joya de Ceren, El Salvador

(Project Manager: Françoise Descamps)

Joya de Cerén, located in the Zapotitan Valley about 32 km northwest of San Salvador, was a pre-Hispanic farming community that was buried under a volcanic eruption around 600 A.D. It is the first ancient Maya Village ever uncovered completely intact. Because of the exceptional condition of the remains, the site provides a view of the daily lives of the Central American populations who worked the land at that time.

In collaboration with the local authorities, the condition survey, materials analysis and monitoring were completed during 2001. The Management Plan and Conservation Strategy will be completed during 2002. Project commissioning, workshops and training of local resources are planned during 2003. The Project evaluation phase should begin in 2003.

China Initiative - Mogao Grottos

(Project Leader: Neville Agnew)

The aim of the Mogao wall paintings project is the development of a methodology for conservation of wall paintings that can be applied at Mogao and other similar sites in the region. The condition assessment, research and testing of suitable grouts will be completed during 2002. In 2003 the project will continue with two field campaigns and further development of a cave lighting feasibility study.

A primary focus in 2003 will be detailed planning for the second Silk Road conference to be held at the site in August 2003. Four Chinese participants will be invited to undergo advanced training at the GCI in July 2002 for five weeks. The Mogao team will continue to collaborate with the China Principles team in the final development of the visitor management study for the site. On-going research on environmental conditions and materials conservation will continue in collaboration with the GCI Science Department.

China Principles

(Project Manager: Martha Demas)

China Principles is a set of guidelines developed by the Chinese in collaboration with the GCI and the Australian Heritage Commission to guide conservation practice in China.

With the completion of the English translation of the China Principles (Articles and Commentary) and their approval by the Chinese State Administration for Cultural Heritage (SACH), emphasis in 2003 will be on dissemination of these documents, both within China and externally, and continued application of the Principles at selected sites in China.

The application phase of the project at the Mogao Grottoes dealing with visitor management at the site will be completed in 2003 and prepared for presentation at the 2003 international conference at Mogao.

The application of the China Principles at the site of Chengde, whose feasibility is currently being assessed, will continue through 2003. Research on the traditional approaches and methods of conservation in China and the illustrated examples of conservation practice in China will be completed and prepared for publication.

Mosaics Initiative

(Project Leader: Martha Demas)

With the completion of the background phase of work in the Research and Testing component of the Mosaics project in 2002, we will move into a new phase of activity. This will focus principally on developing and applying methods and approaches to the conservation of mosaics in situ.

An experts meeting will be organized in 2002 in Cyprus to discuss strategies for training in mosaics conservation and other needs in the field and potential areas and partners for future work.

A mechanism for closer collaboration with the International Committee for the Conservation of Mosaics (ICCM) and possible co-sponsorship of the next ICCM conference will also be explored. The Comparative Exposure Test at Caesarea will be completed, assessed and the results disseminated during 2003.

Mosaics Tunisia

(Project Manager: Tom Roby)

The continued objective of the mosaics project in Tunisia is to improve the practice of in situ mosaics conservation and management by training technicians in the maintenance and basic care of mosaics and by capacity building for those professionals and policy makers who are responsible for sites. This will be achieved by organizing additional campaigns of training at worksites for Institut National du Patrimoine personnel stationed at different sites with mosaics, thereby building on the training of the initial group of nine begun in 1998.

We will also organize structured site visits for INP professional and managerial staff on site management planning and the conservation of mosaics.


(Project Leader: Mary Hardy)

Literature and training activities begun in earlier years will continue during 2003. So many questions and issues remain unsolved in the field of conservation of earthen architecture that field projects have become necessary to further our knowledge and the science of conservation in this field.

Following meetings and discussions with World Heritage Center Director and with CRATerre EAG and ICCROM during 2002, potential field projects will be identified and feasibility studies undertaken. Already, potential sites in various parts of the world have been identified.

Selected projects will begin in 2003. On-going research on unbinding mechanisms of earthen materials will continue in collaboration with the Science Department. Training initiatives will be identified. The literature review and technical glossary will continue during 2003.

Workshop on Altar Pieces

(Project Manager: Françoise Descamps with Valerie Dorge)

The GCI is collaborating with the Instituto Andaluz del Patrimonio Histórico (IAPH), Seville, on a workshop to address methodologies and their application in the conservation of polychrome wooden retables in their original context. The workshop, taking place May 13-15, 2002 in Seville, Spain, has a Latin American focus, with case presentations from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru. Activities in 2003 will concentrate on preparation of the material for dissemination.

The proceedings will be prepared in a collaborative effort with IAPH. All documents and materials are being produced in Spanish, and the GCI will provide translation of relevant articles and case studies summaries from Spanish to English. The publication of the “Cuaderno técnicos” del IAPH is planned in the calendar year of 2003.

Recording, Documentation & Information Management

(Project Manager: Christopher Gray)

Art. 16 of the Venice Charter states the importance of precise documentation for all conservation projects. Gaps between suppliers and users of documentation will be identified during 2002 at a round-table of experts scheduled to meet at the Getty Center during March 2002. The GCI will then select strategic gaps that it wants to study or fill. Projects will begin during 2003. Guidelines, Technical Handbooks and Training have already been identified as major areas requiring immediate attention. Continuing support for RecorDIM strategy should continue until 2007.

Digital Lab

(Project Manager: Rand Eppich)

The mission of the Digital Lab is to support the digital documentation of the Field Projects Department and other sectors of the GCI. Support includes digital graphic condition recording, specification of standards for outsourced data collection and the receiving and archiving of digital project documentation. This also includes advising on digital aspects for all phases of a project: initiation, planning, development, implementation, commissioning and evaluation. Specific aspects of the Digital Lab include:

1) Preparation and maintenance of plans, sections and elevations.

2) Training staff in CAD (computer aided design), GIS (geographical information systems) Access (databases) and other digital tools.

3) Support of dissemination activities through reports, posters and slides.

4) Evaluation and upgrade of software and hardware.

5) Restoration of previous projects to an updated electronic media.

6) Investigation of new tools, techniques and methods for digital documentation.


Museums in Historic Buildings

(Project Manager: Kathy Dardes)

This initiative will identify how the GCI can begin to address conservation issues affecting moveable cultural property. The project goal is to develop an intervention methodology that will integrate the building (architects, engineers, archaeologists, builders etc.), the interior (conservators, architects, craftsmen etc.) and the collection specialists (conservators, scientists etc.) in order to develop appropriate and sustainable preventive conservation strategies.

Conservation techniques and processes developed at the Getty and by partners will be tested in the projects. A group of small museums housed in historic buildings will be selected. The main deliverable for 2003 will be the identification of field sites and the field strategy document that will serve as the blueprint for the work that will be undertaken.

Research projects on environmental conditions and materials conservation will be defined in collaboration with the Science Department. The project is likely to incorporate some of the GCI’s preventive conservation educational work (ie, teaching material development, short courses, etc).

Seminar on Reburial of Archaeological Remains

(Project Manager: Martha Demas)

During spring 2003, a colloquium on the topic of reburial of archaeological sites will be organized by the GCI in collaboration with various partners including ICCROM and the National Parks Service in the USA.

The subject is one on which the GCI has been working for the past decade and developed considerable expertise and information that needs to be disseminated.

It is proposed that the colloquium be similar to the shelters colloquium (successfully completed in January 2001 and soon to be published in CMAS) in format (approx. 40 participants with international representation), venue (SW United States), and partnerships (NPS, SW region; with publication of papers by CMAS). The time of the colloquium is suggested for early Feb. 2003.

World Archaeological Congress

(Project Manager: Neville Agnew) (WAC-5)

The WAC held every three years, is the premier international event for archaeologists. In July 2003 it will be held in Washington, D.C.

The organization for the fifth WAC, has invited the GCI to partner it, together with the Smithsonian Institutions’ National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of the American Indian, and to develop a major theme on conservation.

This is an exceptional opportunity for the GCI to inculcate conservation awareness and practice to the archaeological community at large. The GCI will work with staff from the JPGM and GRI and seek to bring other institutional partners into the process in order to cover the widest range of conservation issues related to sites and objects.

African Rock Art

(Project Manager: Neville Agnew)

The GCI has previously been involved in rock art through training courses and a field project in Baja California. One of the world’s great repositories of rock art is found in Africa and sites are increasingly under threat from development and other causes. There is a great need to raise awareness and conservation expertise in the region. Several years ago the GCI developed an informal consortium of 11 southern African countries to promote conservation of sites in the sub-continent. The operational partner was the South African National Monuments Council. This initiative has continued with annual training courses held in various host countries. It is proposed that in 2003 the feasibility of the GCI’s further involvement to enhance the effectiveness of the consortium be explored. Additionally, the potential for a site-specific rock art initiative in sub-Saharan Africa with a strong national partner and with local community participation would be assessed.

Organic Material in Wall Paintings

(Project Manager: Francesca Piqué)

The project proposes to develop a methodology for the identification of organic materials used in wall paintings dating from the 11th to the 18th century, making use of the collection of samples prepared by Leonetto Tintori.from Vainella, Italy It is a short-term project: 2003 for methodology development and 2004 for implementation. 2005 for write-up or publication.

Museum Disaster Planning

(Project Manager: Kathy Dardes)

Cultural community leaders have known for many years that disaster planning is an important responsibility that is often overlooked due to lack of trained staff and adequate resources. This project, lead by ICOM, in partnership with a selected group of international organizations will address disaster prevention and response world wide on a regional basis. The scope of this project is vast, which will require a significant amount of coordination and planning, particularly in the preliminary stages.

There are three main goals to this project.

1. Develop awareness, expertise and provide practical training in emergency prevention and response for museums throughout the world on a regional basis.

2. Create multi-disciplinary "emergency response teams" that can act as advisors and emergency responders to disasters on a regional basis.

3. Develop regional "train the trainer" courses to ensure emergency prevention and response expertise is perpetuated within local communities.

The Project Phases are:

Phase I (Year 1, 2003): "Pilot Project" Regional Emergency Preparedness Training Workshop

Phase II (Years 2,3 and 4): Regional Training Workshops

Phase III (Year 5): Regional multi-disciplinary "Emergency Response Teams".

Phase IV (Year 5): Regional "Train the Trainer" Workshops.

Taj Mahal Conservation

(Project Manager: François LeBlanc)

In India, the government agency responsible for the care and restoration of national historic monuments and sites is the Archaeological Survey of India. It is responsible for thousands of

monuments and sites. It employs more than 1,300 professional employees and thousands of workers. The task is immense and the financial resources are scarce.

Recently, the Ministry of Culture has decided to begin a new initiative. It decided to team up with carefully selected private sector companies and foundations to further the restoration of a small group of important historic monuments and sites.

On June 21, 2001, the Archaeological Survey of India, the National Culture Fund and the Tata Group of Companies through the Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) signed a major agreement to undertake the "conservation, restoration, upgrade and beautification of the Taj Mahal and the surrounding areas"

The Archaeological Survey of India

Under this agreement, the Archaeological Survey of India maintains the full responsibility and control for the management and execution of the restoration work for the projects identified and described in the Agreement.

The Tata Group of Companies

The Tata Group of Companies is one of the most important corporate groups in India. It owns and operates a wide variety of companies. The Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) is the entity that signed the agreement on behalf of the Tata Group of Companies. Under the Agreement, it is responsible for financing the restoration work identified for the Taj Mahal and for gathering a group of “global” experts to review and comment on the proposed restoration work.

The National Culture Fund

The National Culture Fund is an entity created by the government of India to encourage and facilitate private sector donations that are 100% tax deductible. The funds for the restoration projects of the Taj Mahal will rest with this agency and it will pay the bills and audit the project.

The Taj Mahal Conservation Collaborative

To fulfill its responsibilities, the Indian Hotels Company Limited created The Taj Mahal Conservation Collaborative. It is a small group of professionals who will ensure that the project moves along smoothly and meets all objectives. This Collaborative organized the first Workshop of Experts to review the projects proposed by the Archaeological Survey of India.

The Workshop gathered experts and managers from the Archaeological Survey of India and conservation professionals from India selected by IHCL. The Getty Conservation Institute was invited to participate as an expert institution. Other workshops and activities are scheduled for fiscal 2003