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Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage establishes state-of-the-art facilities for the protection of art and heritage

posted on 02/02/2012: 2813 views

As part of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH)'s mission to safeguard, manage, and enhance national heritage, ADACH has constructed a multipurpose art storage facilities on the ground floor of the National Archive Building in Abu Dhabi. The space, which covers 770 square meters, was established according to international standards, especially those approved by UNESCO.

The state-of-the-art storage facilities accommodate a wide array of collections, such as paintings, drawings on paper and on canvas, manuscripts, photographic materials, sculptures, traditional objects. It provides a digitisation station for manuscripts, archives, and photographic materials.

The refurbished storage will not only accommodate existing ADACH collections, but it will also provide storage solutions for future acquisitions to safely host various formats, sizes, and mediums. In addition, a digitization workshop for the manuscripts, archives, and photographic materials was built conveniently adjacent to the collection areas to allow better access to the art objects as well as better environmental conditions during the digitization process.

"The purpose of these initiatives which the ADACH launches continuously is to strengthen efforts to maintain art collections and cultural heritage by determining the size of those resources, assessing their significance and importance to the national and humanitarian heritage in general, and developing strategies to secure and preserve them and to ensure sound management to keep them a stock preserved for future generations," said Mohammed Khalaf Al Mazrouei, Advisor of Culture and Heritage to His Highness the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Director General of ADACH.

ADACH is in charge of maintaining and promoting the culture and heritage of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Its strategic plan is determined by a group of priority sectors, including the preservation of the various forms of material and intangible cultural heritage, drawing up necessary legislation, developing local professional skills, and promoting the heritage of Abu Dhabi regionally and internationally.

"In a region where ambient temperature can reach 50 C and the rate of humidity can reach 75% and the dust level is high, climate control is an essential requirement," said Dr. Sami El-Masri, Deputy Director-General of ADACH and Director of the Strategic Planning Department.

"The new and improved air handling units and filtration system could therefore provide steady temperature and humidity controls and minimise dust level inside storage," he added.

ADACH's collection comprises an extensive collection of photographs and slides as well as hundreds of audio/video magnetic tapes from the Intangible Heritage Department capturing priceless historical events and Emirati traditions in the UAE to better preserve these materials. New cool and cold storage solutions with set anchored temperatures and controlled humidity will significantly slow down the degradation of these materials and allow time to plan and implement digitisation projects. Specialised packing will be employed to create a safe micro-environment to act as effective buffering system in order to maintain humidity level during storage and the warming up process. This system will also serve as additional protection to the collection should the system stop performing.

Abiding by the UN Environment Programme, the gas-based FM-200 fire suppression system was installed in this storage. This environmentally-friendly suppressant is a sustainable replacement for the existing Halon system which has been found to deplete the ozone layer. Non off-gassing epoxy polyester powder-coated compact storage racks in various style and sizes will also provide a customised solution for various types of artworks and artifacts.

At the completion of this initiative, the future plans call for inventory and re-housing of entire ADACH collection. In addition, a new collection management database will be created to manage ADACH's collection.

Paper and Book Conservation for historical papers and books ADACH has also established a laboratory to preserve the historical papers and books. A number of Paper Conservators work in the laboratory and carry out conservation and restoration treatment, mainly for the Islamic manuscripts and other valuable paper based collections. Conservators also develop methods of storage and display for the manuscripts, photographs and archival materials at the Authority.

A Paper Conservator at ADACH once said that a good conservation treatment should aim to preserve all of the information hidden in the materials and binding structures, rather than replacing them with new binding.

The laboratory does not only to conserve and restore valuable historical papers and books, but also to conduct further scientific and technological research on the writing and printing media, and binding structures of Islamic manuscripts, employing various light sources, such as incident light, raking light, transmitted light, ultraviolet radiation, as well as using a stereomicroscope and a polarised light microscope.

In the future plan, a database recording the materials and binding structures of Islamic manuscripts will be established and shared with a number of corresponding databases in the Middle East, Europe and other regions. This will contribute to the world body of knowledge on Islamic manuscripts. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


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