“After a disaster of course the humanitarian response absolutely has to come first – it’s number one. But people often make the mistake of assuming that there’s nothing that can be done for cultural heritage in that environment during the humanitarian assistance phase. And that’s just not true; you have a ‘golden hour’ to save cultural heritage just as you do human life. And you really can’t separate the cultural heritage from the people.” Corine Wegener, Cultural Heritage Preservation Officer, Smithsonian Institution, August 2015
Since 2013, the Safeguarding the Heritage of Syria and Iraq (SHOSI) Project has provided much needed emergency preservation work, conservation materials, and training to our Syrian and Iraqi colleagues in the hopes of salvaging damaged collections and sites.
The earthquake that struck near the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal in April 2015, killed more than 9,000 people, injured more than 23,000 and left hundreds of thousands homeless. Read how the Smithsonian helped assemble a team of professionals that assisted in the recovery efforts.
In 2012, armed Islamic extremist groups occupied northern Mali and destroyed many Sufi religious shrines and heritage sites in and around Timbuktu, labeling them as idolatrous. Read how the Smithsonian helped organize a week-long workshop
On January 24, 2014, the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo, Egypt, was heavily damaged by a truck bomb directed at the police station directly across the street. Read how staff from the Smithsonian Institution responded to the situation to help stabilize and conserve collections.
The earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, devastated its capital region, killing more than 250,000 and left over 1.5 million people homeless. Read how the Smithsonian helped with the 18-month recovery process.
When natural disasters strike, in support of the Heritage Emergency National Task Force, Smithsonian preservation experts conduct workshops to teach the public simple techniques for preserving damaged personal heirlooms.
Sometimes disaster response requires teams with specific expertise and the Smithsonian collaborates. Learn how the Smithsonian deployed its conservators to New York after Hurricane Sandy to supplement the work of an existing disaster response network.
In November 2016, Iraqi forces liberated the ancient city of Nimrud in Northern Iraq where, buildings, monuments and artifacts were intentionally destroyed. Read how staff from the Smithsonian are working to stabilize and recover endangered antiquities at Nimrud.