Group of three women with an h-vis yellow jacket looking at some documents on a table

Documentation of salvaged collections during the First Aid to Cultural Heritage in times of crisis © National Archives of Georgia, 2019.

The training was conducted by alumnae of the international training course “First aid to cultural heritage in Times of Crisis” organized by ICCROM, Manana Tevzadze (Blue Shield National Committee, Chairman) and Maryam Kalkhitashvili (Blue Shield National Committee, Programs Manager).

The training was divided into two, theoretical and practical, components. Its content was based on ICCROM’s training program, on articles and books published on the protection of cultural heritage in emergencies in recent years, as well as on the experience of the International Network of cultural heritage first aiders.

Both days of the training were attended by up to 30 employees of National Archives of Georgia, representing various departments of the institution.

On April 24, participants were familiarized with the activities of GNCBS and Blue Shield International, to various aspects interlocking catastrophes and cultural heritage, to the risk assessment, risk reduction and risk preparedness measures and typical risks to archival materials. Particular attention was paid to the experience of the National Archives of the United States in disaster risk preparedness and post-catastrophe operations. The second half of the theoretical lecture was joined by Irakli Kobulia who has undergone an international training course on disaster risk management of cultural heritage organized by the Institute of Disaster Mitigation for Urban Cultural Heritage, Ritsumeikan University Kyoto. He spoke about risk management and disaster mitigation with the workshop participants.

For the practical exercise GNCBS team together with Irakli Kobulia came up with an earthquake scenario and set up a catastrophe scene in the building of National Archives.

On May 1st, workshop participants were instructed on the workflow of evacuation of collections and were given table top presentation on collection stabilization measures, which included washing and drying techniques of damaged collection items. After the introduction, they were informed about the catastrophe, divided into groups and undertook salvage and evacuation of “damaged” collections.

Although, at the beginning of the training the participants remained sceptical about the possibility of a “catastrophe” happening at their institution, after being introduced to the examples of emergency situations at cultural institutions from all over the world, they expressed necessity and willingness to elaborate training program on salvaging archival collections and to undertake It on regular basis.

From the left: Manana Tevzadze and Maryam Kalkhitashvili giving a lecture on April 24, first day of training © National Archives of Georgia, 2019; Salvage of affected collections © Georgia BS, 2019.

Learn more about the activities of the Georgian Committee of the Blue Shield on their website and Fb page.