UD conservators to play key roles in global meeting to protect cultural treasures
Debra Hess Norris, Henry Francis du Pont Chair of Fine Arts, chair of the Department of Art Conservation, and vice provost for graduate and professional education
Joyce Hill Stoner, the Edward and Elizabeth Goodman Professor of Material Culture and director of UD’s doctoral program in preservation studies


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12:32 p.m., Oct. 26, 2009----Two University of Delaware faculty -- Debra Hess Norris and Joyce Hill Stoner -- are among 60 of the world's leading conservators and cultural heritage and policy professionals, representing 35 countries, who will convene in Salzburg, Austria, from Oct. 28 to Nov. 1, to explore global challenges related to cultural preservation and to develop an action plan for protecting irreplaceable treasures around the world.

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The seminar, “Connecting to the World's Collections: Making the Case for Conservation and Preservation of Our Cultural Heritage,” is co-hosted by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Salzburg Global Seminar, with additional support from the U.S. President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

Norris, who is the Henry Francis du Pont Chair of Fine Arts, chairperson of the Department of Art Conservation, and vice provost for graduate and professional education at UD, is co-chairing the seminar with Vinod Daniel, head of the Cultural Heritage and Science Initiative at the Australian Museum. Norris is one of the world's foremost authorities on photograph conservation.

“Artistic and cultural collections worldwide, from motion picture film to monuments to archaeological materials, are at risk, particularly in the face of climate change,” Norris said.

Although collections stewardship is central to the mission of all cultural heritage institutions, Norris said, resources for proper preservation are often lacking, emergency plans are not always in place, and public support is not as strong as it should be.

“We intend to strengthen and enhance global partnerships and collaborations through this meeting,” Norris said. “If we can share our strategies we can make a significant difference in protecting and preserving our international cultural treasures.”

Joyce Hill Stoner, the Edward and Elizabeth Goodman Professor of Material Culture and director of UD's doctoral program in preservation studies, will serve as the official rapporteur, summarizing the seminar's results.

Sixty cultural leaders will be in attendance, but we hope that many more will eventually benefit from the written report we put together summarizing the lectures and break-out discussions among those present in Salzburg,” Stoner said. “The Conference Fellows are from institutions representing Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America; this will be quite an important moment in world heritage preservation planning.”

Visit this Web page to follow blog posts from the seminar by Richard McCoy, assistant conservator of objects at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

The Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation is one of only five programs in the United States to offer the master's degree in art conservation. The program's graduates have conserved numerous irreplaceable objects ranging from the Declaration of Independence to the Dead Sea Scrolls, the architectural interiors of Mount Vernon to the Forbidden City, works of art by Rembrandt to Wyeth, the Star-Spangled Banner, Babe Ruth's baseball contract, Elvis Presley's 81 gold records, and the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz.

The Salzburg Global Seminar is an independent, non-governmental organization headquartered at the Schloss Leopoldskron, the mansion where The Sound of Music was filmed. For 62 years, the seminar has brought together leaders, scholars, practitioners, and students from the fields of politics, economics, law, media, culture, and the arts to address issues of global concern.

Article by Tracey Bryant