On Wednesday 14 September, the BSR was proud to host an event all about conservation and cultural heritage in collaboration with FAI and MiBACT, including a contribution from Italy’s Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini. Director Christopher Smith looks back on this exciting event within the context of the BSR’s wider research framework.
‘The BSR has had a long and glittering history as a promoter of conservation and heritage management. In a sense, our third Director Thomas Ashby was already speaking to this as he recorded the disappearing Campagna, and it has been a constant theme, right through to the hugely successful Herculaneum Conservation Project, directed by Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, which was important not only for its achievements, but also as a model for public-private partnerships.
The BSR’s research theme on this subject has been populated with a number of important conferences and events, and we recently added to this with an important occasion, bringing together the very best of UK and Italian experience.
The event, entitled Collaborating for the Cultural Heritage of the World: The Role of Public–Private Partnerships, was a joint event with the Italian National Trust, FAI. There were three case studies. Daniela Bruno spoke about the Parco Villa Gregoriana at Tivoli, and its restoration. The spectacular walk through the Parco is attracting record visitors, and is a testimony to the capacity of FAI to regenerate and advertise places of great beauty and importance. James Bradburne presented his experiences at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence and now the Brera in Milan. His brilliant presentation showed how a gifted and determined museum director can pull a team together and set a gallery at the heart of the cultural life of a city. Finally, the BSR’s own Research Professor in Archaeology Simon Keay and Research Fellow Renato Sebastiani demonstrated the potential of the archaeological park at Portus and Ostia, right by Rome’s Fiumicino airport.
The keynote was offered by Dame Fiona Reynolds, Chairman of the worldwide network of heritage and conservation charities, INTO. Her extraordinarily wide-ranging presentation of different examples of public-private partnerships across the world was held together by a clear focus on what is needed for successful heritage management – clear vision, clear roles and responsibilities, public credibility and support and long-term sustainability. In response, our two very special guests, President of FAI and BSR Honorary Fellow Andrea Carandini, and Italy’s Minister for Culture and Tourism, Dario Franceschini, emphasised the role of international collaboration. The presence of a government minister at what Carandini described as a historic meeting confirmed the importance of this initiative in driving forward a debate about the models which can address the specific circumstances of individual projects in Italy. In concluding, Director Christopher Smith noted that Rome’s foreign academies had a seminal role in bringing together best practice and collaborating to deliver outstanding research results and sustainable heritage management.
Over the coming months, the BSR will host an important international workshop around the concept of beauty in public life, in collaboration with the British Council and think tank ResPublica; and a major conference on conservation and restoration at Portus. Stephen Kay’s international field school at Pompeii taught principles of conservation to an enthusiastic team. Several other projects are under development. From education, to practice, to policymaking, the BSR is leading the way in bringing UK expertise to bear on conservation and heritage management in Italy.’
Christopher Smith (Director)
Photos by Antonio Palmieri.