JAIC , Volume 39, Number 1, Article 14 (pp. to )
JAIC online
Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC , Volume 39, Number 1, Article 14 (pp. to )



1 1. Creation of ICCROM as A Response to Postwar Conditions

The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) was created by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1956 as an independent, international, intergovernmental organization, and was headquartered in Rome, Italy. The aim of the organization is to facilitate the setting up and improvement of conditions for the preservation of cultural property in its member states, currently 95 countries. The creation of ICCROM was very much a reflection of conditions in the aftermath of World War II, when destruction of cultural properties was fresh in memory.

Human memory is relatively short, especially concerning unpleasant events, and, after the first decade or so, the experience of the war's destruction began to fade. It was only in the 1980s, with a series of serious natural disasters in Montenegro, Italy, Guatemala, Japan, and the Middle East, that the museum community again gave attention to the question of disaster preparedness. It is in this context that Sir Bernard Feilden, then director of ICCROM, published his Between Two Earthquakes jointly with the Getty Conservation Institute to provide management guidelines for the mitigation of earthquake hazards. Another series of catastrophic events began in 1989 (the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution), when political and structural changes began to have an impact in Eastern Europe and subsequently in other parts of the world. In many countries, such changes resulted in armed conflicts and serious damage to cultural heritage that was regarded for its symbolic, national-political value. An important international response to risk preparedness in 1995 is the Blue Shield, which ICCROM, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), and the International Council of Museums (ICOM) helped establish. Blue Shield intended to improve the implementation at the grassroots level of the objectives of the 1954 Hague Convention, organized by UNESCO for the protection of cultural property in the event of an armed conflict.