The Middle East Photograph Preservation Initiative (MEPPI) Beirut 2011, held its first course in photograph preservation co-ordinated by the Arab Image Foundation (AIF), the Art Conservation Department at the University of Delaware, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Getty Conservation Institute. This was the first of a series of three, 8-day photograph preservation workshops in the Middle East.
MEPPI Beirut 2011 welcomed 18 participants from leading photograph collections of the greater Middle East, including national archives and libraries, museums, press agencies, and universities from Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Syria. Participants and instructors engaged in theoretical and practical sessions addressing the identification, preservation, and display of photographic materials, whether analog or digital. Participants were provided with preservation toolkits and sample housing materials. Selected participants were provided with state-of-the-art environment monitoring data loggers, to gather data on storage conditions. The workshop included collection visits to the American University of Beirut, the Arab Image Foundation and the Hashem el Madani studio in Saida, South Lebanon. A public talk at the Beirut Art Centre addressed the critical challenges and best practices associated with digital print preservation.
The workshop was directed by Debra Hess Norris (University of Delaware) and Nora Kennedy (The Metropolitain Museum). Speakers included Franziska Frey (Harvard Library), Bertrand Lavedrine (Centre de Recherche sur la Conservation des Collections), Tram Vo (Getty Conservtion Institute), Zeina Arida (former director of the Arab Image Foundation), Akram Zaatari (artist and founding member of the Arab Image Foundation) and Issam Nassar (scholar and historian of photograph and member of the Arab Image Foundation).
MEPPI Beirut 2011 Course structure
– An eight-month period of assigned practical work that participants carried out in their own institutions while remaining in contact with an instructor. The instructor mentored participants by providing advice, guidance and additional information either electronically or by telephone to assist them in their work with their collections. The MEPPI website was also developed to allow participants to share information with one another and to take part in joint assignments and projects. Participants were expected to spend from five to ten hours each month on practical work and distance mentoring with an instructor.
– A final four-day meeting in Rabat for the participants and several of the instructors to share the results of their experiences and to consider the potential next steps in advancing the preservation of their collections.
Workshop date: 10-18 November 2011
Workshop Venue: American University of Beirut
Distance mentoring: December 2011-July 2012
Follow-up meeting: Rabat, Morocco, September 2012
Photo taken by participant Nada Itani