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Smithsonian CULTURAL RESCUE INITIATIVE

In an effort to increase our training, response, and research capabilities, we host or assist in programming multiple conferences around the globe, convening experts to study and actively support the protection of cultural heritage in crisis.


Past Events

June 2016

Conflict Culture Research Network

On Thursday, June 23, 2016, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery hosted the launch of the Conflict Culture Research Network, the next development in the partnership between the University of Pennsylvania Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The network supports rigorous, interdisciplinary research that examines how conflict impacts the culture of communities experiencing violence.  

Opening statements at the launch event came from Karima Bennoune, the UN Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights, followed by a film titled “The Destruction of Memory,” a documentary directed by Tim Slade and based upon the book of the same name by Robert Bevan. The documentary traced the historical efforts to protect cultural property in times of conflict as part of the broader international legal movement to condemn genocide and crimes against humanity.  

Click here for more information about the launch of the Conflict Culture Research Network.

October 2015

Death of History: Witnessing Heritage Destruction in Syria and Iraq

On October 28, 2015, in the Kennedy Caucus Room at the Russell Senate Office Building, a luncheon and panel discussion was hosted by the Penn Cultural Heritage Center of the University of Pennsylvania Museum. Accompanying the discussion was an educational exhibit concurrently showcased in the Russell Rotunda. Speakers included Senator Bob Casey, Senator David Perdue, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Edward Royce, and House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel. 

Read a press release about the event.​

The expert panel discussion featured: 

Click here for more information about the Death of History exhibition and the ongoing digitization projects of the Smithsonian.

                      

Unite to Save Conference: Investigating the Attributes of Successful Emergency Cultural Heritage Interventions

With the financial support from the John and Carolyn Peterson Family Fund through the Smithsonian Grand Challenges Consortia, the Smithsonian Office of the Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture hosted a two-and-a-half day conference highlighting illustrative case studies that can assist in identifying the key attributes associated with the successful protection of cultural heritage during complex emergencies.

"Collaboration in this field is critical, which is why this symposium, I believe, is such a giant step forward. Too often, the protection and recovery of cultural heritage has been ad hoc and fragmented. Emergency responses to protect cultural heritage have been treated as temporary engagements, for understandable reasons, rather than an ongoing discipline. The result, at times, has been that best practices and protocols and standards are frequently based on circumstantial evidence or conventional expert wisdom. By coming together for this symposium, you are establishing a new body of disaster management data formed by evidence-based analysis and detailed case studies. You are beginning to build capacity and in-depth interdisciplinary research, setting the stage, eventually, for better coordination and collaboration before the next disaster occurs." Smithsonian Institution Secretary David Skorton, Oct. 7, 2015

Twelve presentations were delivered on the following four themes: risk reduction; building the capacity for resilience; local leadership during crises; and negotiations and collaborations during and after a crisis.

Watch the presentations and other conference agenda items, including lectures and panel discussions.

September 2015 

Vulnerable Heritage: Planning Responses in Iraq and Beyond Workshop, sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution, Penn Cultural Heritage Center at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, and The American Academic Research Institute in Iraq. 

7th Annual Workshop for the U.S. Army Combatant Command Heritage Action Group, sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution and Combatant Command Heritage Action Group (CCHAG).

September 2014

Annual Meeting of the U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield, sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

6th Annual Workshop for the U.S. Army COCOM Cultural Heritage Action Group, sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution and Combatant Command Cultural Heritage Action Group (CCHAG).

August 2014

Uniting to Save World Cultures Workshop, held at the National Museum of Natural History, was supported with Smithsonian Institution funds from the Consortium for Valuing World Cultures.