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Washington, the “First Aiders” of Cultural Heritage graduate at the Embassy of Italy



Washington, the “First Aiders” of Cultural Heritage graduate at the Embassy of Italy

WASHINGTON – “Crisis Divides, Culture Unites.” This is the motto with which the First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis course in Washington concluded. The month long program was organized by the Smithsonian Institution, the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) in Rome, Italy and by the Prince Claus Fund. Twenty-one participants from eighteen countries: sixteen women amongst which Giulia Barella and Yasmin Hashem, and five men undertook five weeks of seminars and field exercises to prepare to intervene in areas of crises to protect the culture of humanity.

The course, which began on June 2, concluded yesterday at the Embassy of Italy in Washington DC with a closing ceremony and the awarding of certificates. Apart from the Ambassador of Italy to Washington, Armando Varricchio, several dignitaries graced the occasion amongst which the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution David Skorton, the Provost Richard Kurin, the Director of ICCROM Stefano De Caro, the Minister of Culture of Lituania Šarūnas Birutis and the Director of the National Building Museum Chase Rynd.

The event is part of the “Protecting our Heritage” year-long programming which was launched last February by the Embassy of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute of Washington. This series of events has been organized by the European National Institutes of Culture (EUNIC), the network of Institutes of Culture of European countries in Washington, under the 2016 Italian Presidency.

“Tonight at the Embassy, we hosted three important organizations that work towards the protection of the cultural patrimony of humanity,” said Ambassador Armando Varricchio. “The Smithsonian Institution , the largest museum complex in the world, ICCROM and the Prince Claus Fund have chosen the Embassy for the closing ceremony of the First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis course which has just ended in Washington. This important occasion is one of many Protecting our Heritage events organized which have had tremendous success with over 6000 participants in attendance. In the many activities of recent months, organizations from all over the world shared their commitment to protect the cultural heritage and identities from threats and dangers occurring all too frequently in these historic and challenging times”

In his opening remarks the Italian diplomat also underlined how the protection of cultural heritage is a priority in Italian foreign policy as shown recently in February when Italy signed the first Memorandum of Understanding with UNESCO to set up the so called Blue Helmets for the protection of culture. He added that protection of cultural heritage is now a specific priority in foreign policy also for the European Union which has made it its pillar in the new “Strategy for International Cultural Relations” presented in Brussels earlier this month.