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How to Conserve Artefacts in War: CCCHU and CCI Empower Ukrainians through Conservation Education

Imagine you are in a war-torn country with few provisions facing an unknown future. How can you protect your heritage? Ukrainians across the country are asking this very question. The Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI), CCCHU, and the Center to Rescue Ukraine’s Cultural Heritage are working to provide answers, helping the Ukrainian public protect documents, artwork, and other objects of cultural heritage.

The CCI has produced six educational videos on conservation in crises. This suite of videos demonstrates how to store papers, objects, textiles, paintings, furniture, and photographs, as well as provides tips on choosing appropriate storage spaces. Using food storage containers to create microclimates for sensitive objects or blue jeans as make-shift fire protective blankets for flammable materials are included within the CCI’s recommendations. Fully translated into Ukrainian, the language is accessible and the methods simple so that anyone can learn and implement basic conservation techniques.

“We’re not suggesting every museum should wrap their artefacts in blue jeans,” explains Mikaela Marchuk, Assistant Preventive Conservation Advisor at CCI and member of the CCCHU. “These videos are not best practice because they’re not the ideal. Instead, they provide practical advice on making the most out of the limited supplies Ukrainians may have in their homes. This guidance was prepared quickly to respond to a crisis and suggest materials we wouldn’t use under normal circumstances. But we still wanted to empower Ukrainians to make conservation decisions in an impossibly difficult situation.”

Beyond recommendations for the general public, the CCI has extended their reach, providing suitable storage advice for museum objects. The above video addresses risks like moisture, mold, fire, and theft. Objects should be stored in stone buildings well above sea level and raised off the floor. Air ventilation helps prevent mold growth, and objects are best stored in spaces without windows.

The videos have proven popular, viewed over 1000 times on facebook and youtube. In an article translated from Ukrainian to English by Myron O. Stachiw for the Institute of Conservation, London, Natalia Filevych, one of the founders of the Center to Rescue Ukraine’s Cultural Heritage, wrote, “The priority task of our Center to Rescue Cultural Heritage is assistance to museums, cultural institutions, archives, and sacred buildings in the preservation and protection of our cultural heritage. We realized that we alone could not accomplish these tasks, so we turned to international cultural organizations…The Center to Rescue Cultural Heritage helps to save our heritage which, just like human life, is invaluable.”

CCI is currently producing an infographic with conservation tips and QR codes for their new video collection.

Article by Natalie Filevych translated by Myron O. Stachiw for ICON

Help us raise $500,000 to support cultural heritage in Ukraine.

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