Argentinean experts to advise on damaged works of art in National Gallery

Two Argentine experts in conservation and restoration of art will be visiting Guyana between the 2nd and 9th of September to examine damaged works at the National Gallery and to recommend the way forward.

A joint release yesterday from the Ministry of Education here and the Embassy of Argentina said that the works of art will be carefully examined by the experts and an assessment of conditions and needs for restoration and conservation will be conducted.

Identification of the material and techniques needed in order to restore and conserve works of art will be done.

In addition, a pool of resource persons from the National Gallery and other cultural institutions of Guyana will be identified and will receive training in conservation and restoration.

The release said that the travel of the Argentine experts is financed by the Fund for South-South Cooperation administered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Argentina.

The project will be implemented by the “Taller Tarea” of the Cultural Heritage Research Institute (TAREA-IIPC) at the National University of San Martín (UNSAM) in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Néstor Barrio

The release said that the visit is essentially an exploratory one in which the Argentine team will be conducting a first assessment of the damaged works of art, most of which are on oil and acrylic paintings on canvas, canvas boards, tentest and tentest lined with fabric, after which a proposal will be put in place on the way forward to implement the project.

The team will comprise Néstor Barrio, Dean of the Research Institute on the Cultural Patrimony, and Damasia Gallegos, Director of the “Taller Tarea”.

The release noted that in 2014, Guyana’s National Gallery of Art, Castellani House, discovered that a number of its prized paintings and works from the National Collection had deteriorated due to several factors, and as a consequence were endangered. It was therefore considered necessary to restore the affected works but Guyana did not possess the necessary technical competence to counteract the state of deterioration.

This situation, the release said,  saw the then Director of Culture, Dr. James Rose meeting with Argentinean Ambassador Luis Alberto Martino on March 16, 2015, to discuss efforts to treat damaged paintings. At that meeting, Dr. Rose presented a project proposal to the Embassy of Argentina.

Two years after, in a meeting on April 25, 2017, the Argentine Ambassador and Curator (ag) of the National Gallery of Art, Castellani House, Ohene Koama, agreed that the best way forward would be to submit a proposal to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Argentina for a project to be implemented in stages. The release said that the proposal to advance the project was then discussed in a meeting between the Ambassador, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Department of Culture, Youth and Sport, Melissa Tucker, and the Director of Culture (ag), Tamika Boatswain. It later received approval from the Ministry’s Administration. Subsequently, the release said that the Ambassador delivered the request to the Argentine Government for consideration. As a result of this, the International Cooperation Department of the Argentine Foreign Ministry confirmed the availability of a team for the project.

TAREA-IIPC UNSAM is a research and training institute whose main task is the conservation and restoration of artistic, archival and bibliographical assets, in public repositories.

The project, it is estimated, will impact approximately 250,000 people belonging to the cultural institutions and the visual arts community here inclusive of artists, students, researchers and the general public.

The persons who will participate in the training will be drawn from the National Gallery of Art, the E.R. Burrowes School of Art, the University of Guyana, the National Archives, the National Trust, the National Museum, the Museum of African Heritage and the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology.

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