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Friday, May 30 • 10:30am - 11:00am
(Photographic Materials Session) Digitization as a tool for preventive conservation and a key role for sustainability

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Cultural institutions are committed to a long-term preservation of their collections and information that help communities to understand their heritage. The Fouad Debbas Collection, a private collection of photographs based in Beirut, Lebanon, has developed policies that guide both the management and the access to the artifacts themselves and to their information. While the latest activities of this private institution stressed on the importance of preventive conservation, especially through an optimum environment control (climate, light, housing and storage), today, the target is the public and how to meet its needs. A collection such as the Fouad Debbas Collection encompassing more than 40 000 images from the 19th and the mid 20th centuries (albumin prints in albums or gathered in portfolios, glass plates and lantern magic slides, stereoscopic views, cabinet cards, engravings and maps) is a major national asset and a legacy for future generations.

The question of sustainability is then a challenge: how can it be incorporated into the cultural areas of the Lebanese society which every generation has already suffered political instability, war and conflicts?

Lebanon, and the region at large, lacks any serious governmental structures and institutions capable of protecting and preserving the region’s cultural heritage. Moreover, the Damocles sword of a new armed conflict haunting Lebanon and the instability of the region are so many risks that threaten the Lebanese and Middle Eastern heritage. In this context, the Fouad Debbas Collection has received lately a grant from the British Library and the Endangered Archives Programme in order to digitize, catalogue and index a representative sample of the collection: the photographs of the Bonfils studio, established in Beirut from 1867 to the 1910s+. The Bonfils Debbas collection is clearly an invaluable document registering the history of a region at a crucial crossroads in the wake of great historical upheaval that was about to sweep the region and bring about the Modern Middle East as we know it.

avatar for Yasmine Chemali

Yasmine Chemali

Manager, The Fouad Debbas Collection
Graduated from the Ecole du Louvre in Louvre Museum in Paris in preventive conservation and Islamic arts, Yasmine Chemali had her first experiences in the Islamic department of the Louvre museum and the textile department of the museum for Asiatic arts in Paris, before being the responsible... Read More →

Friday May 30, 2014 10:30am - 11:00am PDT
Grand Ballroom C