MCC Mosaic Conservation Course is part of MOSAIKON, a wide-ranging, ambitious initiative aiming to promote best practice in mosaics preservation in the Mediterranean region. MOSAIKON is supported by some of the world’s major cultural heritage institutions; partners of the project are the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI), the Getty Foundation, the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), and the International Committee for the Conservation of Mosaics (ICCM).
MOSAIKON originated from the awareness that many of the world’s most significant ancient mosaics are deteriorating and disappearing on a daily basis. As everyone involved in their care will know, mosaics are complex artifacts and pose great preservation challenges. When detached, they are bulky, heavy objects, difficult to handle and to display, often actively deteriorating as a result of inappropriate past interventions. When left in situ, mosaics are threatened by a large number of deterioration agents, from salt efflorescence to looting and vandalism, and most frequently, from neglect. MOSAIKON aims to improve the quality of preservation and management of mosaics by supporting the professionals that are directly involved in it. The initiative is aimed at all professional figures in the cultural heritage field: policy makers and government officials as well as site managers, conservators and technicians.
The first phase of MOSAIKON started in 2008 and came to an end in 2012. Setting clear targets for the initial phase was key to ensuring the effectiveness of the measures undertaken and the best use of available resources. The principal aim was to increase awareness at all levels of the most pressing issues in mosaic conservation, while providing the tools needed to resolve these issues. With this focus, strategies of the first MOSAIKON phase worked towards specific goals that were prioritized by the partner institutions:
- Strengthening the professional network of mosaic conservation, an effort towards which the ICCM was particularly committed to.
- Dissemination and exchange of relevant information; in particular, technical materials such as glossaries and texts have been made available for the first time in Arabic.
- Raising awareness at an institutional level; regional institutions and governments were engaged in order to improve the working environment from a legislative, regulatory and economic point of view. Achieving such a goal would lay the foundations for lasting improvements at all other levels.
The area of interest of MOSAIKON was limited to archaeological mosaics, both in situ and detached, in museum display or in storage. However, the project may widen in the next phase to include a wider range of mosaics. It is also hoped that the geographical area that the program has focused on, now limited to countries of the southern and eastern Mediterranean basin such as Tunisia, Jordan and Syria, will involve countries from the wider region in the future.
The MOSAIKON program is a coordinated effort of all the institutions involved. Within its broad framework, many initiatives and activities are taking place at the same time, maintaining a shared strategic vision and working towards the same goals. Great attention is paid to acting on a regional level, since every area presents its individual challenges and peculiarities. The five years from 2008 to 2012 that formed the first phase of MOSAIKON have seen many activities implemented by the partner institutions.
The translation work mentioned above, and particularly the Arabic-English “Glossary of Arabic Terms for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage”, has been carried out by ICCROM within the ATHAR program and is freely available here, together with other Arabic publications.
In June 2012 ICCROM organized a training course for mosaic conservators and site managers: “Saving the Mosaics in Museums of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean”, which took place in Jordan. Information on the course and other ICCROM initiatives can be found here, and on the ICCROM webpage dedicated to MOSAIKON.
The GCI and the Getty Foundation have been active in implementing training courses and other related activities. The “Conservation and Management of Mosaics on Archaeological Sites” course took place in Lebanon in May 2010, supported by the GCI and ICCROM. At the same time, the GCI is carrying out an independent research project on “Investigation of alternative re-backing and backing methods and materials”.
To find out more about MOSAIKON, its background and objectives, visit the ICCM website and GCI website. This blog is itself an element of the MOSAIKON initiative; it is part of MCC Mosaic Conservation Course 2014-2016, a three-year program run by CCA Centro di Conservazione Archeologica – Roma, consisting in several training courses for museum professionals from the southern Mediterranean region. It is the continuation of a program which begun with MCC Syria 2011-2012 and MCC Jordan&Tunisia 2012-2013, two series of courses that took place in Italy, in CCA’s headquarters near Rome. The participants, who were all employed in governmental institutions and involved in the care of mosaics, went through an intense program of theoretical lessons, laboratory practice and didactic visits.
Visit the CCA website for more information on the course program, activities, participants and teachers.