Engaging Shared Heritage
October 3, 2018
On September 26th, on the sidelines of the 73rd Annual United Nations General Assembly, the New York Public Library (NYPL) hosted a fascinating symposium on the critical role that cultural institutions play in engaging shared heritage. There the NYPL and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BnF) reaffirmed their commitment to promoting cultural exchange and increasing access to their respective collections by signing an inter-institutional agreement to share their collections.
The Antiquities Coalition’s Co-Founder, Peter Herdrich, moderated an engaging discussion on safeguarding cultural heritage under the threat of conflict. He began by stating that initiatives like the Bibliotheques d’Orient and the Antiquities Coalition’s Digital Library of the Middle East (DLME) serve to create solutions to such problems by spearheading the digitization of collections of the Middle East and North Africa region. These initiatives also work to show communities that they are valued in the international sphere and start the dialogue between western organizations and nations under threat.
The panelists included a wide range of international experts. Father Samer Yohanna of the Salahaddin University – Erbil spoke extensively of his work to protect manuscripts on the heritage of the Syriac-speaking populations of Iraq and the importance of opening up the impressive collection to the rest of the world.
Annie Sartre-Fauriat, Emeritus Professor of Ancient History and an expert on the Syrian site of Palmyra, spoke on the issues of the post-conflict rebuilding of the ancients sites destroyed at the hands of Daesh (ISIS). She advocated for the restoration of the site using the highest standards of conservation practices while continuing the archaeological work on the site, as much as 80% the site remains undiscovered.
Father Columba Stewart began with underlining the longevity of manuscript preservation by speaking on the microfilming of Benedictine manuscripts in fear of the effects of the Cold War. Although the manuscripts remain safe, Father Columba highlighted the need for forward-thinking actions and preventive actions to take in anticipation for conflict and disasters.
To learn more about the DLME and Bibliotheques d’Orient you can visit their websites.