Following the Haiti Cultural Recovery Project in 2010, where heritage professionals from around the world worked with our Haitian colleagues after the earthquake, the Smithsonian continued to enthusiastically advocate for and develop further capacity to coordinate and participate in emergency preparedness and disaster recovery of cultural heritage worldwide. In November 2012, Corine Wegener was named Cultural Heritage Preservation Officer at the Smithsonian, and she began to assemble a team of experts integral to the process of responding to cultural crises sparked by armed conflict or natural disaster.
Drawing from our talented Smithsonian experts, from archaeologists to conservation scientists to collections managers, we are aiming to create a place exclusively designed to protect cultural heritage and respond in times of disasters. Working together with our collaborating partners, we can provide the advice and on-the-ground assistance that is needed in times of crisis. We want to create and share new research dedicated to uncovering the root causes of damage to cultural heritage in disasters. And we want to provide a place of leadership and learning, a place where people can come to learn techniques for saving their own cultural heritage when it is at risk.
Educating policymakers and the public on the scope of the threat, the need for action, and the lessons of successful strategies is the key to making a difference.
Instilling a consistent and routine practice of readiness in anyone charged with safeguarding cultural heritage is the most effective means of preventing its destruction.
When disaster strikes and cultural heritage is endangered, our team at the Smithsonian is committed to providing advice, support, and timely, on-the-ground assistance to our colleagues in need.
Our response and training support capabilities are grounded in scholarly research. We engage scholars and practitioners in a variety of fields to increase the resource bank for cultural heritage professionals around the world.