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Humankinds Most Iconic Historic Sites Face Increasing Pressure from Environment and Humans -Needed Expertise to Preserve Stone Structures, Buildings and Objects Declining

March 4, 2009

LOS ANGELES—From the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., to the pyramids in Egypt, to the Great Wall of China, stone has been used to create some of the world’s most iconic historic sites.  In many regions of the world, stone has been the predominant material used for building and artistic purposes.  But increasing pressure and erosion from climate change, pollution, everyday use by humans, and lack of maintenance are presenting daunting challenges to the conservation of stone buildings, objects, and structures for future generations.

The decline in traditional building techniques, craft practices and repair methods worldwide adds to the problem. 

In an effort to improve stone conservation practices internationally, an International Course on Stone Conservation is being offered in Venice, Italy, from April 16–July 3, 2009, by the Getty Conservation Institute and partners the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), the University of Venice, UNESCO–Bresce, and two agencies from the Italian Ministry of Culture (Soprintendenza per i Beni Architettonici e Paesaggistici di Venezia e Laguna, and Soprintendenza Speciale per Patrimonio storico, artistico, etnoantropologico e per il Polo Museale della città di Venezia e dei comuni della gronda lagunare).

“The course moves from theory to analysis to practice,” said Susan Macdonald, Head of GCI Field Projects.  “It is a highly competitive opportunity that offers multidisciplinary teachers who exemplify the best practice and most forward thinking research in the field.  Conservation education in stone is an area of interest and need for the GCI, so we’re delighted to partner on this course,” added Macdonald.

The relaunched course, the sixteenth organized by ICCROM and the University of Venice since its inception in 1976, has been redesigned to reflect the most recent advances in research and practice and will include a new focus on architectural and structural conservation issues related to stone construction.

Last held in 2003, The International Course on Stone Conservation has long served a vital educational role in the conservation profession by offering an accessible and intensive format in which to learn theoretical and practical methodologies for stone conservation.

Open to conservators-restorers, architects, archaeologists, conservation scientists, engineers, and other professionals involved in stone conservation, it also has provided a constructive and intimate forum for international professionals to meet and exchange ideas about the conservation practices and challenges in their home countries. The 2009 course will build upon the experience of previous courses and will expand to address the evolving needs of practicing conservation professionals. The course will be conducted through reading, classroom lectures and discussions, group work, participant presentations, laboratory research, fieldwork exercises, and site visits.

As the newest partner in the course, the GCI anticipates that this multi-partner collaboration will improve stone conservation practices internationally and create a network of well-informed conservation professionals.  An additional, more long-term goal of the GCI is to develop and disseminate reference and teaching materials related to stone conservation education.

For more information on the course, visit the Getty Conservation Institute website at, or link directly to the course description at

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Melissa Abraham                      
Getty Communications

About the Getty:

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

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The Getty Conservation Institute works internationally to advance conservation practice in the visual arts-broadly interpreted to include objects, collections, architecture, and sites. The Institute serves the conservation community through scientific research, education and training, model field projects, and the dissemination of the results of both its own work and the work of others in the field. In all its endeavors, the GCI focuses on the creation and delivery of knowledge that will benefit the professionals and organizations responsible for the conservation of the world's cultural heritage. To learn more, subscribe to the GCI's E-Bulletin by visiting