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 )




Since its creation, ICCROM has participated in emergency actions, although at the beginning more on an ad hoc basis. The 1966 flood in Florence, when the Arno River flowed into the center of the historic town, was an eye-opening experience for the organization. The flood penetrated the basement levels of historic buildings, museums, archives, and collections, and caused serious damage to paintings, manuscripts, and other art objects. ICCROM was immediately contacted by the Italian government for help, and came to work jointly with the Istituto Centrale del Restauro (Italian Restoration Institute), identifying suitable experts for salvage operations as well as coordinating assistance offered from abroad. Similar action was taken in Venice, where the deputy director of ICCROM continued for several years to participate in a scientific commission, in association with Italian authorities and UNESCO, to create policy and coordinate guidelines for safeguarding and restoring historic buildings after a flood.

In the late 1970s, ICCROM took an active part in emergency activities after the earthquakes in the northern Italian province of Friuli, as a member of the international coordinating committee for safeguarding measures and by helping to identify damage to historic structures. Participants in the international Architectural Conservation Course (ARC) volunteered to spend about a week in the region in groups, to identify and evaluate damage to historic structures. Their task was systematically to inspect historic structures in the earthquake region and to recommend emergency measures according to the severity of the damage. In the same region, a team of experts from ICCROM and Austria, led by Sergio Lucarelli and Dr. Hans Foramitti, participated in the photogrammetric recording of the cathedral of Venzone. Fortunately, this recording was done immediately after the first earthquake, when the building was still in reasonable condition, because a second series of shocks caused a large part of the building to collapse. The ruined structure was again recorded, and the two records provided a fundamental reference for the identification of fragments and the reconstruction that was completed in the 1980s.