The Development of The Levantine Foundation Conservation Training Project

The Development of The Levantine Foundation Conservation Training Project

The 4th Training Programme for heritage professionals, librarians of monastic collections and university students was attended by 206 delegates from across the world.

The programme was supported by grant received from The British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund, in partnership with the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

Due to Covid19, training was presented online by international academics specialising in Coptic, Islamic and Christian history, and by experts in codicology and conservation working in the preservation of ancient codices on parchment and paper. Forty-four delegates attended the programme at the Manial Palace Museum while one hundred sixty-two participants from Egypt and Europe watched it on line.

The response was overwhelmingly positive, the Egyptian delegates expressed their immense gratitude for a unique opportunity to participate in this ambitious programme.

“The Programme highlighted the importance of creating an environment to share skills and expertise across the international cultural heritage sector and for laying foundations for collaboration in order to shape the future of museums and their collections across the globe” Elizabeth Sobczynski, CEO, The Levantine Foundation

Highlights of the presentations were Georgios Boudalis’ lecture on Mediterranean Book-bindings and the Principles of their Conservation, Alexia Melianou on The Science of Book Conservation, and Dalia Nabawy’s research (Cairo Coptic Museum), on Materials and Symbols: Black Inks in the Early Coptic Era. However, the biggest success proved to be a presentation and life footage demonstration on The Conservation of Paper Books and Manuscripts delivered by Giovanni Pagani (Recanati e Restauro) and Valeria Di Capizzi, who were kept for an hour after the proceedings to answer an avalanche of questions from the audience.

Giovanni Pagani, a conservator who describes himself as a book doctor, emphasised the exceptional talents assembled by The Levantine Foundation, such as Ilana Tahan, Lead Curator of Hebrew and Christian Orient Collections, British Library, Georgios Boudalis, expert on the Eastern Mediterranean Bookbinding Structure and Alberto Campagnolo, one of the most renowned specialists in digitisation methods.

Giovanni explained

“ancient books and manuscripts are like a hidden and complex treasure, that needs many keys to be turned to be understood. Modern technology offers us unparalleled virtual access to these gems, It helps us to make ancient books and manuscripts freely open and freely discovered, by a wider audience”

The Programme ended with a closing ceremony at El Manial Palace Museum on Thursday 3rd December 2020.

In 2008, following training delivered to a number of Egyptian conservators during the conservation campaigns at Deir al-Surian, The Levantine Foundation embarked on a conservation training programme in collaboration with the Museum & Art Advisory Limited Liability Company, New York and the Coptic Museum, Cairo.

The goal of the project is to create an international platform for understanding and exchange of knowledge between conservators and museum specialists and to encourage them to develop their methods and upgrade their techniques which, in turn, will build economic value and help to preserve Egyptian heritage for future generations.

Pilot Project, Coptic Museum, Cairo

The Pilot which was generously hosted by the Coptic Museum took place in March 2009. It was attended by thirty curators, librarians and conservators from the Coptic, Egyptian, and Islamic Museums and the Manyal Palace as well as librarians and custodians of the monastic collections. The two-week programme was divided into museology and conservation and it addressed issues such as historical connections and artistic interactions between Christians and Muslims, Western museum practices, and a practical workshop on the conservation of parchment material. The participating lecturers were:
Christopher Clarkson ARCA, Dr Helen C Evans, Dr. Kamilia. M. Gerges, Dr. Mattheus Immerzeel, Professor Jonathan Ashley-Smith, Dr. Ezzat.H.Salib, Elizabeth Sobczynski ARC MIPC.