Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Smithsonian-Haiti Cultural Recovery Project

The Smithsonian Institution is leading a team of cultural organizations to help the Haitian government recover Haiti’s cultural materials damaged by the Jan. 12 earthquake. A conservation site will be set up where objects retrieved from the rubble can be assessed, conserved and stored. It will also be the training center for Haitians who will eventually take over the conservation effort.

“The highest priority ... has rightly been to save lives and provide food, water, medical care and shelter,” said Richard Kurin, Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture at the Smithsonian. “However, Haiti’s rich culture, which goes back five centuries, is also in danger and we have the expertise to help preserve that heritage.” The rainy season in Haiti has already begun, and the hurricane season is on its way. Much of Haiti’s endangered cultural heritage is in destroyed buildings and is at risk of permanent destruction.

Among the artifacts at risk are architectural features such as stained glass and historic murals, as well as paper documents, photographs, artifacts and some of the 9,000 paintings from the Nader Museum which is now in ruins.

“With this unprecedented inter-agency effort ... we express our collective belief that in times of great tragedy it is essential to help a country preserve and protect its cultural legacy for future generations,” said Rachel Goslins, executive director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

Top: Little Crippled Haiti, Edouard Duval Carrie
Bottom: Damaged painting at Galerie Nader, by Rigaud Benoit

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