September 23, 2011
Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage
It used to be a cold, uninspiring and characterless pharmaceutical manufacturing plant. Now the 212,000 square foot plant in Yale, Connecticut, is the home of a newly established Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, whose aim is to unite the University of Connecticut’s resources and the collections of the state’s three main museums, to “advance conservation science and its practice around the world.”
In creating and developing state-of-the-art techniques and tools that will result in the world of conservation advance and expand, the new institute has been described by Robin Hogen, a spokesperson for Connecticut University, as “the first of its kind”.
This unique and highly innovative institute is being funded by Lisbet Rausing, the heiress to the Swedish food processing and packaging company, Tetra Pak, and whose husband, Peter Baldwin is a professor and author of several books related to comparative history of modern Europe and the United States, who received his B.A from Yale in 1978.
The digitisation of works of art and artefacts of conservation is at the heart of the institute’s activities. So far, the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage has digitised a quarter of a million works from its various collections, these images are available to view online free of charge.
In continuing the area’s development of nanotechnology, the new institute will continue researching and developing the manipulation of atomic matter in order to advance conservation techniques and to slow down the process of degradation of works of art.
The state-of-the-art institute will develop computer-based techniques to preserve ancient mosaics, including a Byzantine example from northern Jordan.
In a statement about the new institute, Peter Baldwin talked about the importance of technology in conserving some of the world’s most valuable belongings and to make these possessions more accessible.
“Yale shares our deep conviction that new technology will not only help us protect our most valuable cultural assets, but also expand access to those assets for people around the world,” said Baldwin.
No doubt other conservation institutes will be following in Yale’s footsteps and using advanced technology and digitisation techniques to help conserve their most prized possessions.