October 26, 2016
New York University, in partnership with Friends of Florence and the City of Florence convened two meetings to commemorate the anniversary of “L’Alluvione,” a flood that ravaged the city of Florence and damaged countless pieces of art of immeasurable value, some irreparably. On the occasion of that commemoration, the two conferences, one in Washington, DC and the other in Florence, Italy called attention to an equally devastating contemporary challenge to our cultural patrimony: intentional destruction of cultural property for ideological reasons.
This symposium brought together regional actors together with international experts and scholars from the fields of art, conservation and museums, international culture, law and law enforcement agencies and organizations to discuss the challenges and solutions to protecting our cultural heritage.
Cultural heritage is increasingly in danger of intentional destruction or incidental damage in the context of war and terrorism. The attack on the temples and burial towers of Palmyra in Syria is the latest shocking example of a systematic campaign of bombing, smashing, bulldozing and otherwise destroying irreplaceable cultural properties, for ideological reasons, across the Middle East and North Africa. In addition, extremist groups are generating income trafficking items looted from archaeological sites and museums in these conflict areas. The international community is struggling to cope with the destruction, which seems to be continuing unabated. The United Nations Security Council, in a resolution addressed to the destruction by ISIL and the Al-Nusrah Front of cultural heritage in Iraq and Syria, called upon the international community to take steps, in cooperation with Interpol, UNESCO and other international organizations, to prevent the trafficking in items of cultural, scientific and religious importance illegally removed from either country during periods of conflict.
View the second convening of Protecting Cultural Heritage in an Uncertain Time, hosted by NYU Florence's La Pietra Dialogues, on the La Pietra Dialogues Web Page.
Dario Nardella was born in Torre del Greco (Naples) on November 20th 1975. He is married to Chiara and father of 3 children.
He graduated in Law with first class-honours at the University of Florence, where he got a Ph.D. in Public Law and construction and Environmental Law. He is also a graduate in violin from the “Conservatorium Cherubini” in Florence. Professor at the University of Florence where he teaches Cultural Heritage Law, he started his political career in 2004 when he was elected Councilman for the City of Florence in the Democratic Party.
He served as legal advisor to the Minister of Institutional Reforms during Romano Prodi’s premiership (2006-2008).
In 2008 he was selected by the U.S. State Department as young Italian politician to attend the International Visitor Leadership Program. In 2009 he was once again elected to the Florence City Council and appointed Vice Mayor in the City Government of former Mayor Mr. Matteo Renzi.
In February 2013 he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament and Member of the Commission for tourism, industry and trade.
In February 2014, before leaving his office as Mayor to become Prime Minister, Mr. Renzi appointed Dario Nardella for the regency of the City until next elections. After winning primaries for the Democratic Party, in May 2014 Nardella has been elected Mayor of Florence with 59,16% of preferences at the first round of voting.
In June 2014 Dario Nardella has been elected as ANCI ( the national association of Italian Municipalities ) coordinator for the metropolitan cities.
Armando Varricchio became ambassador of Italy to the United States on March 2, 2016. He previously served as diplomatic advisor and G7/G20 sherpa for the Italian prime minister (2013); deputy secretary-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2012-13); ambassador to Serbia (2009-12); and minister plenipotentiary-deputy diplomatic advisor to the Italian president (2006-09). He also previously worked in Washington, D.C., at the Italian Embassy as first counselor and head of the Economic, Trade and Scientific Affairs Section (2002-06).
Other posts include diplomatic advisor to the president of the European Commission and personal representative at the G7/G8 summits in Okinawa, Genoa and Kananaskis (1999-2002); chief of staff to the minister for European affairs (1998-99); and counselor at the Prime Minister’s Office and head of the Europe and Asia Desk (1996-98). Ambassador Varricchio, who joined the civil service in 1986, also served as first secretary at the Italian Mission to the European Commission (1992-96) and second secretary at the Italian Embassy in Hungary (1986-92).
Born in Venice on June 13, 1961, Ambassador Varricchio holds a master’s degree (summa cum laude) in international relations from the University of Padua.
He is married to Micaela Barbagallo and has two sons, Federico and Umberto.
Professor Marincola's twin research interests in the examination and conservation of polychrome wood sculpture and the history and theory of conservation are direct reflections of her professional experience, and form a basis for her teaching. She worked as a conservator at The Cloisters from 1990 until 2002, focusing on the conservation and preservation of sculpture. Her research into the complex material histories of wooden sculpture by the German late medieval master, Tilman Riemenschneider, led to a number of articles and an exhibition catalog essay that combined technical analysis with archival and historical data to interpret former states of condition or appearance. Much of this work focused on sculpture in American collections that had not been thoroughly examined before. After her move to the Institute of Fine Arts in 2002 she became interested in larger issues of methodology and theory in conservation, and has expanded her research accordingly. For example, after recognizing that she had over-interpreted one set of technical data in an article she had published, she embarked on a research project into mistake making in art conservation, work that is still on-going. Although this subject is well developed as a research field in medicine and human-factors fields like aeronautics safety, nothing had been done in conservation, where the risk of operator error is also high. She has since published one article and given several lectures on her project findings, and is planning to publish a book on the subject in the near future. Another rich area for research within art conservation is the history of this relatively modern field, and she has concentrated her efforts here in primary research into the examination and treatment of medieval European polychrome wood sculpture, co-authoring two substantial articles on the topic. In addition, she was editor of a new edition and English translation of a fundamental text in the field of European polychrome sculpture, Johannes Taubert’s Farbige Skulpturen (1978), published by the Getty Conservation Institute as Polychrome Sculpture in 2015. Her new preface, notes and bibliography consider the place of Taubert’s significance as a historian of sculpture and a close collaborator with conservators, and added substantial new research that has been completed since the first publication of the book.
At present she has a contract with the Getty Conservation Institute for a book on the conservation treatment of medieval polychrome wood sculpture, co-authored with Metropolitan Museum conservator Lucretia Kargère, which will address a long-standing need in the field. The book traces the history of treatment of medieval painted wood sculpture, assesses the performance of these treatments over time, and explains methods in practice today; its emphasis is on the contextualization of contemporary practice within the historical continuum. There is no book in English on this subject, and indeed no book in any language that takes a similar comprehensive, trans-national viewpoint.
She is currently a member of two international research groups, After the Black Death: Painting and Sculpture in Late Medieval Norway (University of Oslo), and the Color Making working group of the National Science Foundation-supported project Making and Knowing (Columbia University), and is an active member of the International Council of Museum – Committee for Conservation working group, Sculpture, Polychromy and Architectural Decoration.
Conservation Challenges in Emergency Preparation: This panel will consider the challenges and methods in use to conserve items facing immediate threat by human catastrophes.
As a physical chemist with 50 years of research and teaching in materials science applied to the preservation of cultural property, Norbert Baer has served in an advisory capacity to such agencies as the American Research Center in Egypt, the Indo-US Sub-commission on Education and Culture, the U.S. National Archives, the National Materials Advisory Board of the National Academy of Sciences, the European Commission Directorate on Environmental Research, and the Committee on Natural Disasters. Beginning with a Guggenheim Fellowship 1983-1984, Dr. Baer turned his attention to larger issues of preservation policy, in particular, the introduction of concepts of Risk Management to the conservation of cultural property. A major manifestation of that approach was the development of a Dahlem Conference on Rational Decision-Making in the Preservation of Cultural Property leading to the so titled Report edited with Prof. Rolf Snethlage.
Dr. Alda Benjamen is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania Museum’s Penn Cultural Heritage Center, and a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution, in the Office of the Under Secretary for Museum and Research. She works as a historian specializing in cultural heritage documentation and preservation. She recently completed her PhD in Modern Middle Eastern History at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her dissertation, “Negotiating the Place of Assyrians in Modern Iraq,” examines the relationship between a stronger Iraqi state under the Baʿth regime, which began in 1968, and the Assyrians, a Christian ethno-religious group. Her research weaves ethnographic material, and oral histories, with original archival sources uncovered in Baghdad, and in libraries and private collections in Erbil, Duhok, and Mosul in languages ranging from Arabic, Classical Syriac and modern Aramaic. She specialize in the history of the modern Middle East; in particular she focuses on twentieth-century intellectual, cultural and social history of Iraq and Syria, Middle Eastern minorities and their transnational networks, and women and gender issues. Her current research examines cultural heritage in times of conflict, and focuses on intangible heritage within agricultural domains.
Dr. Benjamen received the E.B. Smith Award for Best Dissertation in Political History, and was a fellow at the American Academic Research Institute in Iraq. She holds a Master’s degree from the Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations Department at the University of Toronto in Syriac Studies.
Stephanie Hornbeck is Director of Conservation at Caryatid Conservation Services, Inc., her private practice in object and sculpture conservation based in Miami. From 2010-2012, she served as Chief Conservator for the Smithsonian Institution Haiti Cultural Recovery Project in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, directing conservation recovery efforts of cultural patrimony damaged in the January 2010 earthquake. In recognition of her service, in 2011 Stephanie was awarded the Smithsonian Secretary’s Gold Medal for Exemplary Service from former Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough. This rarely given honor recognizes extraordinary achievement in service of the best ideals of the Smithsonian Institution. Stephanie is the first conservator in the award’s history to be honored.
From 1998-2009, Stephanie was Conservator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art and served as Chair of the Smithsonian Forum on Material Culture from 2006-2009. She is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) and a past chair of the AIC Education and Training Committee.
Stephanie has lectured on the topic of disaster recovery at the American Institute for Conservation, the Caribbean Commonwealth Association of Museums, and the Florida Association of Museums. Stephanie has also lectured and published on the identification and regulation of ivory and shared conservation aspects of ethnographic and contemporary art. Stephanie received her B.A. in art history from Wellesley College and her diploma in fine art conservation (objects) and M.A. in art history from the Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University.
Methods of Documentation: This panel will discuss the existing and developing technologies being used to reconstruct and document destroyed objects, artifacts, heritage sites and architecture, in order to preserve a digital copy of the past that is lost to the elements, human conflict and the passing of time.
Dr. Branting is an archaeologist with specializations in the ancient Near East and geospatial science. He holds advanced degrees in archaeology and geography from the University at Buffalo and the University of Chicago. For ten years he served as the Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Landscapes (CAMEL) at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. He directs the Kerkenes Dag Project in central Turkey, an enormous ancient city that was built around 600 BC by the Phrygians of King Midas fame and destroyed around 547 BC during the rise of the Persian Empire under Cyrus the Great. The Kerkenes Dag Project seeks to understand this ancient city, and aspects of other cities by comparison, through excavations, remote sensing, and advanced simulations. Dr. Branting is also involved in using satellite images to monitor cultural heritage sites from space, and has worked on archaeological projects around the world.
Mr. Khaled Hiatlih leads IDA's on-site reconstruction initiative in Syria. In collaboration with the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums and other regional stakeholders, IDA is exploring all aspects – methodological and conceptual – of the application of new technologies to the repair and reconstruction of archaeological sites. Mr. Hiatlih has worked in many projects in Syria such as the restoration of the Folk museum (Azem Palace) in Damascus, and led a team to document all the mosaic panels in Syrian museums as part of a database project with the European center for Byzantine and post-Byzantine monuments. Mr. Hiatlih graduated from Damascus University and studied at Birmingham University, USA.
Dr. Sanders is trained and educated as an architect, architectural historian, and archaeologist. He helped pioneer the discipline of virtual heritage in the early 1990s and continues to innovate in the field. His special interest is the application of nontraditional methods (including advanced computer graphics, virtual reality, and behavioral science techniques) to the study and visualization of the past, pushing the boundaries of conventional archaeological interpretation. Professional publications and conference papers have covered such topics as alternative approaches (including those from semiotics, environment - behavior studies, ethnoarchaeology, and human geography) to the study of architecture in archaeological contexts; and the use of interactive computer graphics for the collection, an a
analysis, and dissemination of information about ancient material culture for research, education, publication, broadcast, and museum display. He founded Learning Sites Inc., in 1996, and the Institute for the Visualization of History Inc., in 2001, to actualize these innovations. He continues to be an invited keynote speaker at venues around the world; and publications by him or about his companies have appeared in journals, newspapers, books, and magazines in nearly a dozen countries.
The Feasibility, Desirability and Ethics of Reconstructing Destroyed Cultural Properties
Childs joined PEM in June 2016, coming from the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York where he served as Head of Conservation Services and was responsible for overseeing more than 10,000 artifacts.
Childs joins PEM at an exciting time and brings with him exceptional experience in conservation, collection care, team management, historic preservation and grant writing. Childs oversees the museum's registration, collection management and conservation functions. His appointment coincides with the planning for new installations of the collection as part of PEM's expansion project and for a new 80,000-square-foot Collection Stewardship Center. The Center will provide unprecedented capacity for the study and care of the museum's collection of more than 1 million objects.
A graduate of Yale University and the University of Delaware/Winterthur Museum Program in Art Conservation, Childs has also been affiliated with a wide variety of projects at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others. He has also been an adjunct assistant professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia University. From 2006 to 2011, Childs served as Conservator at Historic New England, where he managed the conservation department responsible for treating objects from 36 historic house museums and the associated study collection.
Professor Janowski is especially interested in the many philosophical issues that arise in thinking about the conservation, restoration, and preservation of material culture and material cultural heritage (artworks, buildings, sites). He has published a number of essays-see, for example, "Resuscitating Bamiyan's Buddhas? A Dispatch from Dresden, Two Lessons Learned" and Bringing Back Bamiyan's Buddhas-and is at work on a book which aims to sort out what should happen at Bamiyan while also addressing the fundamental questions in conservation theory. He has given numerous presentations, both invited talks and conference talks, in the U.S. and abroad.
Dr Anna Paolini is UNESCO Representative in the Arab States of the Gulf and Yemen and Director UNESCO Doha Office since September 2013.
She was UNESCO Representative and Head of Office in Uzbekistan from 2007 to 2009 and later she covered the same position in Jordan. In 1992, she joined UNESCO as specialist in the field of culture at the Regional Office in Amman. In 1997, she moved to UNESCO HQ covering several positions within the Culture Sector including for being responsible of movable heritage activities and on heritage in conflict response. Prior to that, she held a research associate role at the Institute of Architecture of Venice, worked in restoration in Italy and carried out researches in the field of urban rehabilitation in several Arab and African countries. She holds a Master’s degrees in Architecture and a master degree in Urban and Regional Planning for Developing Countries, a post-graduate degree on Development Cooperation, as well as a Ph.D in Urban and Territorial Engineering
Mrs. Paolini is a member of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and the Italian Association of Professional Architects and author of several papers on different cultural heritage subjects.
Friends of Florence is a U.S. 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the cultural and historical integrity of the arts in the city and surrounding area of Florence, Italy. Its most recent major project, funding of the restored Botticelli Rooms at the Uffizi, was opened to the public on October 18th.
The non-profit provides financial support directly to the city’s restoration laboratories to restore, safeguard, and make available to the public a broad range of art from paintings and sculptures, to architectural elements and collections of smaller objects. Through educational travel programs and events, Friends of Florence strives to increase public understanding and an appreciation of the glorious city of Florence and its abundant treasures.