The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 19, Number 4
Sep 1995

Latin America's World-Class Paper Conservation Course

In October/November 1994, the first Regional Course for Latin America brought 15 archive conservators to Santiago, Chile, to attend a six-week course, held in Spanish.

The course was a joint project between ICCROM and the Centro Nacional de Conservación y Restauración of Chile, with the financial support of the Commission of the European Community, the UNDP/UNESCO Regional Project, the Government of Spain and Fundacion Andes of Chile. The course also benefitted from the generous collaboration of various conservation units and private restorers in Chile, setting a superb example of partner collaboration.

The course venue was the conservation workshop of the National Library, with classes held also at the National Archive and the 20th Century Archive. For the occasion, the National Library secured funding to completely renovate its workshop, the National Archive set up a major exhibition on its conservation activities, and the 20th Century Archive offered participants the chance to apply theory to the real-life challenges of a new facility.

The participants represented a variety of conservation endeavours in the archives of Latin America. The preservation challenges these archives face are gagantuan, and the lecturers and participants discussed many issues of current concern. Preventive conservation emerged as a central theme, seen in the context of the different course units, which included such topics as paper chemistry and technology, conservation treatments, project design, risk preparedness and applied technology.

The course provided ICCROM with an opportunity to use the program developed for the international paper course in Austria and adapt it to the needs of a specific region and context. The lecturers were specialists from both Latin America and other parts of the world, who offered students not only updated information, but also a chance to learn about leading conservation entities elsewhere.

The participants' commitment to the development of archival conservation in their own countries and their deep interest in strengthening regional cooperation on various levels was inspiring. Given the encouraging results obtained, and the great number of applications received, a second edition of the course is planned for 1996. (From ICCROM Newsletter 21)

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