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Conservation experts support Tunisian heritage

29 March 2022

Conservator-academics deliver conservation training for heritage management professionals in North Africa

World-class experts in Conservation have helped to train heritage management professionals in Tunisia.

Professor Jane Henderson and Reader in Conservation Phil Parkes collaborated with the Kairouan Manuscript Project, the University of Hamburg’s Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, and the University of Toronto Mississauga’s Old Books New Science Lab to deliver the bespoke course on preventive conservation.

The Cardiff team designed and delivered the course over 10 weeks from Cardiff, teaching live online, with conservators from the staff of the National Heritage Institute’s Laboratory for the Preservation and Conservation of Parchment and Manuscripts following live sessions supported by a full suite of teaching materials.

The programme has further established international partnerships to build skills and extend understanding of how best to care for treasures of world importance.

In discovering more about climate and operations in Tunisia, the Cardiff team have encouraged participating conservators to take a leading role in devising and setting climate appropriate standards and protocols for collection care in their local and national collections.

The project is part on a long-term partnership between Hamburg and Toronto University and the national heritage institute of Tunisia’s laboratory in Kairouan.

Based at the University of Hamburg’s Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, the Kairouan Manuscript Project has been working in cooperation with the Tunisian National Heritage Institute and its laboratory in Kairouan to preserve and study Tunisia’s manuscript heritage since 2018. In addition to Cardiff University and the University of Toronto, its long-term partners include the Chester Beatty, The Pennsylvania State University and the Barakat Trust.

Professor Jane Henderson is an advisor to Welsh Government for museum strategy, an expert for European Standards and Secretary General to the International Institute for Conservation. A founder member of the Care of Collections and architect of the Conservation Accreditation Scheme, she trains future generations of conservators in the School of History, Archaeology and Religion and regularly contributes to conservation podcast The C Word.

Alongside his diverse project work on collections from across the world at the University’s conservation laboratories, Reader in Conservation Phil Parkes teaches object-based conservation and analytical techniques. With particular interest in producing maille armour, his prized conservation highlights range from working on Roman coin hoards unearthed in Carmarthenshire and medieval treasures now on display at St David’s Cathedral to conserving faience tiles from the step pyramid of Djoser.

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