Drachman Institute and Arizona State Museum Collaborate on Video Series for Management of Museum Collections

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Arizona State Museum and Drachman Institute Heritage Conservation Program, both based at the University of Arizona, have posted five short videos on management of museum collections. They are based on curriculum that was presented to museum and heritage professionals from throughout Iraq at the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage (IICAH) in Spring, 2014.  

The five videos are presented in English, Arabic, and Kurdish, with more languages to come. The videos cover Collections, Acquisitions, Labeling, Adhesives, and Photography, and are all available to watch online.

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Faraway Ranch Historic District, Cultural Landscape Report: Parts 1 and 2, Chiricahua NM, AZ

Faraway Ranch is located within Chiricahua National Monument in southeastern Arizona. This historic vernacular landscape dates from the late nineteenth century and continued to be occupied by descendants of the Erickson family until the mid 1970’s. During its history, the property transitioned from subsistence farming and ranching to a guest ranch closely linked to the development of the adjacent Chiricahua National Monument.  

Afghan Professor Takes in Campus Culture

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

By Jazmine Foster-Hall, Arizona Daily Wildcat, November 4, 2013

A visiting professor from Afghanistan is learning about cultural conservation in order to take what she learns back to her country.

Muzhgan Hamraz, is a professor from Kabul University in Afghanistan who came to Arizona through the UA’s Heritage Conservation Program. Hamraz said she’s hoping the knowledge she gains here will allow her to expand the class options at her own university. She has suggested that Kabul University add three courses to its curriculum: culture heritage conservation, ethnography of Native Americans and site management.

Hamraz has visited multiple historical sites and museums in Arizona and has also visited downtown Tucson. She said the cultural difference between Tucson and Afghanistan is clear.

“I have seen different layers of historical culture, which started from Native Americans,” Hamraz said. “After that, the invasion of Spanish colonies, and after that, the European invasion. All of these have their own culture and impact on Arizona state.”

Suzanne Bott, program director for the UA’s heritage conservation outreach programs said the program to bring Afghan scholars to the U.S. is being funded by the state and education departments, and has been in the making for five years. The UA was chosen to host the program because of its location and talent, Bott said.

“I think [we were chosen] because of our arid lands expertise, earth and architecture expertise, state museum and the breadth of the project team members,” she said.

The project is important because it will teach Afghans how to preserve and protect their history, Bott added.

“There just hasn’t been opportunity to do that with 30 years of civil war and occupation and the current war that’s been going on,” Bott said. “It’s a really unique situation where they can come here and experience it and then take those tools home.”

The project’s team has been working closely with the university library to study new research methods and online resources. They have also been working with the Arizona State Museum and the College of Architecture, Planning & Landscape Architecture.

Hamraz said she is looking forward to visiting more historical sites, both in Arizona and across the U.S., because of her interest in Native American culture.

“She’s really smart, and she tries to learn,” said Aysan Abdollahzadeh a graduate student studying planning and the research assistant for Hamraz’s project. “She wants to get it and do her best because she’s here to learn.”

Heritage conservation is critical to any culture, especially in war-torn areas, because it emphasizes a shared cultural identity, Bott said.

“Cultural heritage has been shown to be one of the most important factors in helping nations recover their identity after traumatic events, like war and natural disasters,” Bott said. “That’s a really strong unifying factor, so for Afghanistan, this is extremely important that they be able to own their cultural identity.”

- Follow Jazmine Foster-Hall @Jazz_Foster

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Professors from Afghanistan Visit UA to Learn Historic Preservation

Friday, October 18, 2013

By Andrea Kelly, Arizona Public Media, October 16, 2013

The University of Arizona is hosting three professors from Afghanistan this semester, with the goal to teach them historic and cultural preservation techniques.

Afghanistan has more than 5,000 historic sites in need of preservation, but many have been destroyed or threatened during the country’s decades of war.

The professors are learning from UA cultural preservationists, as well as other professions, including archeology, anthropology and ethnography -the study of cultures.

One of the professors in Tucson, Muzghan Hamraz, teaches three courses in archeology and one in ethnography at Kabul University. She hopes to learn skills and restoration techniques she can take back to her country, she said.

“I hope I completely implement this methodology to Kabul University," she said. "Our main goals in cultural heritage conservation are how we can implement the new methodology and how we can make a curriculum, an academic curriculum in Kabul University."

The professors are also learning new teaching methods, which incorporate technology to enhance the mostly lecture-style college classes. They are studying with UA's library researchers.

“We really need this kind of program because our archeological sites and historical sites are faced with lots of difficulties, are faced with lots of problems," Hamraz said, especially after decades of war, during which some historic sites were destroyed.

"We should preserve it and we should learn about how we can manage a site and how we can use the methods, how we can preserve historical archeological sites. It’s very important for us," she said.

The skills she and her two colleagues are learning from peers in Arizona are not just academic, they could help with economic development in Afghanistan, said R. Brooks Jeffery, director of the Drachman Institute, which is funding the program with a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State.

“This started with the premise that Afghanistan needs to go through a period of reconstruction and that involves infrastructural reinvestment and we're hoping that cultural preservation can be that," he said.

The professional training could help develop a tourism market for the country, he said.

"Also to begin to develop an industry around that that would create an economic driver for the next generation of support for Afghanistan,” Jeffery said.

The program has been five years in the making, and the funding is administered by the National Park Service. That government program in itself is something the Afghan professors are learning about, Hamraz said.

“It's our dream to one day we will be able to preserve our monuments and our sites as a national park service," she said.

The professors visited Tumacacori National Historical Park to find out about site conservation. Just like sites in Afghanistan, Hamraz said a lot of cultures are reflected in that building, which is located south of Tucson.

It started as a “Spanish colony and after that it became a part of the United States. Still we can see the influences of Spanish and Mexican art in Tucson,” she said.

The professors arrived in early September, and will stay until early December. One of the things they’re learning is artifact preservation techniques, at the Arizona State Museum.

“We work together to (learn) how we can preserve artifacts, how we can analyze it, how we can restore it, and in the lab how we can analyze artifacts and archive artifacts," Hamraz said.

While it is a program in which U.S. professors and experts teach Afghan residents, it's actually a two-way learning process, Jeffery said.

“One of the most important things is that the Americans who are interacting with the Afghans are going to learn as much as the Afghans will take with them. And the reason is that Americans have a very generalized view of Afghanistan and the Afghan people are on par with critical issues that affect cultural issues worldwide," he said.

Jeffery said he hopes this program sparks more like it in the future.

“I think it's important that the U of A realize the resources that are common to both regions. So we have a tradition of mud and earthen architecture here, we have a tradition of layered cultures each one with their expression," Jeffery said. "I think we have a lot to learn from each other.”

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UA Helps Build Heritage Conservation Program in Afghanistan

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

By Alexis Blue, UANews, May 21, 2013

Three junior faculty members from Kabul University will work with UA faculty in Tucson to learn the latest techniques in conservation, research, artifact examination and care, and more.

In war-torn Afghanistan, years of upheaval have taken a toll not only on the country's people but on its past, with many cultural relics being lost or destroyed there.

Museums have been looted, archaeological sites and artifacts have been damaged in targeted bombings or by natural disasters, such as earthquakes and floods, and there is a shortage of locals trained to manage important pieces of the country's history.   

In an effort to help Afghanistan preserve its past, the University of Arizona is partnering with Kabul University to help build the college's cultural heritage conservation program so that it can educate a future generation of conservators for the country.

The project – a partnership between Kabul University's department of archaeology and anthropology and the UA's Drachman Institute – will bring three junior faculty members from Kabul to the UA later this summer to learn the latest techniques in preservation, conservation and documentation of artifacts and architectural materials, as well as strategies for research and disaster preparedness.

"Afghanistan continues to be on the threshold of change, and it has such an amazing heritage, people want to have the opportunity to learn more about it," said Suzanne Bott, program director with the Drachman Institute, which serves as the research-based outreach arm of the UA'sCollege of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture.

"The more current the faculty members are with the latest tools and techniques, the better job of preservation they'll be able to do," Bott said. "They'll be able to work with their government and decision-makers to impress upon them the importance of both celebrating their historic preservation and their national identity, and doing preservation and reconstruction for the future."

The pilot project, funded by the U.S. Department of State and overseen by the National Park Service, will bring three Kabul University faculty members to Tucson in August. They will work for three months with faculty from the UA College of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture; the UA School of Anthropology; the Arizona State Museum and professionals from the National Park Service's Western Archaeological Conservation Center and parks throughout the American Southwest.

The project focuses on eight key areas: conservation theory, documentation and site assessment, artifact examination and care, architectural materials conservation, interpretation and public education, site management, disaster preparedness and heritage conservation law.

The goal is to build Kabul University's capacity to educate students on the latest techniques, while preparing them for careers in archaeology, conservation and museum work.   

"They've lost a lot in Afghanistan, and there's a whole generation of young people who now are going to be thinking about what the future holds," said Bott, who is directing the project. "Part of that future is understanding where they have come from and what their identity is all about. Then they can proudly claim their heritage, and they can display it in their historic sites and their museums for their own citizens and for visitors."

Others instrumental in the project include R. Brooks Jeffery, professor and director of the Drachman Institute; Nancy Odegaard, professor and head of the preservation division at the Arizona State Museum; and UA librarian emeritus Atifa Rawan, an Afghan-American who also is spearheading the UA's ongoing work to aid in reconstruction of libraries in Afghanistan.

"Conservation as a whole is really important in Afghanistan because no one has really preserved anything in the past 30 to 35 years," said Rawan, who recently returned from a two-week visit to Afghanistan with Bott. "Time is taking its toll on places of cultural heritage, and with all of these years of war and upheaval, they've lost personnel. They don't have the technical people to work on these issues."

"This project is timely, and it's the politically right thing to do as U.S. forces are leaving," she added. "We need to set up their higher education institutions to support them."

If the project goes well, it could lay the groundwork for similar efforts in other countries, Rawan said.

Odegaard – who serves on the advisory board of the Iraqi Institute for Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage, which focuses on cultural heritage preservation in Iraq – said the hands-on experience Kabul faculty members will receive at the UA will be invaluable in preparing them to educate students back home.

"Most of them have probably never been on an excavation and handled these kinds of objects," she said. "We want to make sure they know how to handle and lift objects and that they learn about labeling systems, how to pack things, how to clean, examine and test different objects and different material types, and why order and storage is really important."

Although a world apart, important similarities exist between Arizona and Afghanistan that make the partnership between the UA and Kabul University a good fit. Both are arid regions that share similar architectural traditions, with the earliest buildings in both areas being constructed with mud bricks, notes Jeffery, who coordinates the UA's multidisciplinary Graduate Certificate in Heritage Conservation.

Jeffery stressed that heritage conservation in Afghanistan is important not only culturally, but economically.

"When you think about rebuilding countries, whether it's Iraq or Afghanistan, you often think of infrastructure – roads, petrol, water, schools, housing; you don't always think about the economic development," he said.

"In a place like Iraq, you immediately think of oil as being the savior in terms of economic development. In a place like Afghanistan, which is not as oil rich, you have to think about diversifying economic development, and heritage tourism has the potential of being huge once the area becomes stable," he said.

"What we're hoping to do is lay a foundation for economic development and conservation. This isn't just about the monuments needing help; it's about developing really a strong infrastructure of economic development that's based in heritage and heritage tourism."

Drachman Institute Welcomes Suzanne Bott, PhD

Friday, April 19, 2013

Suzanne BottWith much pleasure, the Drachman Institute and the College of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture welcome Suzanne Bott, PhD.

Suzanne has been hired as Project Director for an ongoing university partnerships grant to develop a professional education program for Afghan cultural heritage conservation. The goal of this partnership between University of Arizona's Heritage Conservation Program – based in CAPLA –  and Kabul University's Department of Archaeology and Anthropology is to build Kabul University’s teaching and research capacity as a long-term investment for preserving Afghanistan’s rich cultural heritage.  Suzanne recently returned from a visit to Kabul where she met with US and Afghan government officials, UNESCO representatives, and Kabul University faculty to advance efforts toward inviting up to three faculty members to the University of Arizona this Fall.

Suzanne is no stranger to Tucson nor the Middle East.  She's held positions with the Pima County Cultural Resources and Historic Preservation Office and with the Sonoran Institute, and spent three years as a US Department of State reconstruction advisor in Mosul and Ramadi, Iraq. She has a Masters degree in Planning and Community Development and her PhD dissertation was on the psychometric scales to measure sense of place.

Suzanne will be officed in the Smith House as part of the Heritage Conservation unit of Drachman Institute.

 

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Heritage Conservation's Preservation Field School - Application Deadline Extended!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Heritage Conservation program, Drachman Institute, and Cornerstones Community Partnerships are running a week-long ruins preservation field school in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona from January 6 - 11. Check out the flyer for more information, and apply today! The deadline has been extended to December 6th.

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Heritage Conservation Student Honored with National Award by ASLA

Friday, September 28, 2012

Barry SteinbrecherUA Heritage Conservation student Barry Steinbrecher garnered second place in a national competition to recognize America’s unique historic Latino landscapes.

The competition was sponsored by the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS), a program administered by the National Park Service, and carried out through the state chapters of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).  Each year, HALS challenges professionals and students to promote and recognize unique and diverse cultural landscapes.

The 2012 HALS Challenge focused on documenting historic landscapes that reflect American Latino heritage to increase awareness of the role of Latino groups in shaping the American landscape.  Steinbrecher, a current student in the UA Heritage Conservation Graduate Certificate program, chose to document Tucson’s cultural shrine, El Tiradito, to recognize the site’s significance as a cultural landscape.

“I grew up going to El Minuto with my grandparents and have been interested in the shrine from an early age” Steinbrecher recalls.  “It’s a place that’s been important to me for a long time.  Now, being able to go beyond my love for the shrine and communicate its importance to a larger audience is something I’m proud of.” 

The legend associated with El Tiradito, translated as “the castaway”, has many versions among the Tucson community. It is commonly believed that the shrine honors the former gravesite of Juan Oliveras, a young shepherd who was murdered by the husband of the woman with whom Juan was in love.  Although the original grave was only marked with shrubs, devote Mexican women thought there should be prayers said for Juan’s soul.  They lit candles and over time a belief grew that their own wishes, made after prayers were said for Juan, would come true.  The shrine, known also as the “Wishing Shrine”, was moved to its present site in the Barrio Libre in 1927, and a u-shaped adobe wall was built in 1940 providing a formal backdrop to the devotional site.

Steinbrecher’s work at El Tiradito started off as a class project to create a preservation plan for a significant site in Tucson.  She became fascinated by the site’s power as a living place:  for traditional religious devotion, as a cultural symbol of Hispanic resistance in the 1960s when the site was threatened by urban renewal, and even its use today as a site for honoring fallen migrants, now with a weekly vigil.El Tiradito Shrine

Steinbrecher will be presented with her award at the 2012 ASLA Annual Meeting in Phoenix on Sept 29th and her project will be added to the collections of the Library of Congress.   Steinbrecher, who will graduate from the Heritage Conservation program in December, describes it as the “culminating experience and the result of the tools I’ve learned here at the University.”

About the Graduate Certificate in Heritage Conservation

The Graduate Certificate in Heritage Conservation is an interdisciplinary program of the College of Architecture & Landscape Architecture (CALA) at the University of Arizona that educates students in the preservation of the built environment as part of a comprehensive ethic of environmental, cultural, and economic sustainability. CALA is a national leader in sustainable design and planning for arid regions.

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