China / Society

Experts polish their preservation skills

By Wang Kaihao (China Daily) Updated: 2015-09-21 07:59

The world's leading institution for professionals who preserve and restore history and conserve fine art from the past will nurture more expertise at China's former royal palace in Beijing.

The London-based International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, which has more than 2,000 members from 50 countries and regions, opened its first training center at the Palace Museum on Sunday.

The first course of training has begun and will last until Friday. It focuses on preventive conservation of cultural relics. Participants include about two dozen trainees from China and overseas. Shan Jixiang, director of the Palace Museum, is among the nine professionals providing lessons.

"How to better use modern technology in the conservation of museum collections is a priority issue for cultural relics' protectors around the globe," Shan said, adding that it was urgent to open such a training center. "We don't lack high-tech facilities; we lack professionals with expertise."

He said that among the 1.8 million cultural relics housed in the museum, about 1 million pieces require frequent preventive maintenance. That explains why he is hoping to rely more on the international institute, he said. He sees that as a crucial step in promoting international cooperation.

Shan first expressed his willingness to establish the center during his attendance at last year's gathering of the institute in Hong Kong. That willingness was echoed by Sarah Staniforth, the group's president, who said a shortage of professionals is not unique to China.

"Before the Hong Kong Congress, we had the impression that traditional practice was very much the way in which Chinese conservation was carried out," Staniforth said, adding that there plenty of room for research collaboration.

"But we were hugely impressed also by the way in which science is used in conservation in China," she said.

She said the training center would also use Palace Museum experts to launch a long-term project based on the museum collections.

"Our next focus may be conservation of contemporary arts. We hope Chinese professionals will participate more in the project," she said.

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