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American Art Museum Helping Out in Haiti
June 10, 2010


Artwork in Haiti

Art damaged in the 2010 earthquake, awaiting conservation efforts. Photo by American Art's Hugh Shockey

American Art's Mandy Young is receiving reports from our conservator, Hugh Shockey, who is in Haiti to help with the rehab of the country's artworks after the recent earthquake there. For additional coverage visit our Flickr set of Shockey's photographs and our Facebook page.

The Smithsonian is leading a team of cultural organizations to help the Haitian government assess, recover and restore Haiti’s cultural materials damaged by the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake. A building in Port-au-Prince that once housed the United Nations Development Programme will be leased by the Smithsonian and will serve as a temporary conservation site where objects retrieved from the rubble can be assessed, conserved and stored.

Smithsonian American Art Museum objects conservator Hugh Shockey is traveling with several other Smithsonian employees on the recovery team, and has been sending us updates and pictures of the tasks at hand. Hopefully, with the hard work of Hugh and his colleagues, Haitian conservators can be trained to take over the restoration and protection of objects displaced by the earthquake, ensuring their safety and preserving Haiti’s rich heritage for generations to come.


Posted by Jeff on June 10, 2010 in Conservation at American Art, Newsworthy, Picture This


Comments

I understand that though everything in the area of the proposed recovery center was leveled, this particular building is the only one standing. It was built years ago by the Corps of Engineers and, therefore, it was built completely different with quality cement and reinforcements according to US building codes. Inspected in close detail, this building survived the earthquake in excellent condition and is usable now. I think its great that the international efforts will focus on the training of locals to become capable technicians in the salvage and preservation processes.

Haiti has seen it's share of terrible pain from the bloody regime and overthrow of Papa Doc. to the devastation of earthquake ravishment. Because the British originally colonized the island you know that they brought a heavy dose of tea and colonialism to the Haitian culture. This includes art, art in every, shape, concept, and color and design . It stands to reason that the earthquake not only ripped the heart of everyday people from the landscape, but also the premier art of the local artists and British museums on the devastated island. What is left of Haitian Art needs to be saved. I’m not saying that this equates to even the importance of one human life. This is perhaps second and third to human life and improving the condition of the Haitian earthquake victims is first and foremost. This is why these valiant attempts to save the island art are so noble. They will help grow the shattered cultural climate as Haiti rebuilds.

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