Protection of cultural property in emergency and war situations
“Cross-sectoral challenges: specialist in the protection of cultural assets in case of emergencies and war – development of a postgraduate program dedicated to employees working at the intersection of disciplines”- is a program that was implemented in 2020-2022 in partnership with the Villa Decius Institute for Culture and the Polish Naval Academy of the Heroes of Westerplatte in Gdynia.
The protection of cultural property, understood, on the one hand, as taking care of it in peacetime and respecting it in times of crisis or armed conflict, obliges those involved and outsiders to specific actions and behavior adapted to the time and circumstances. Peacetime is a period of prevention and preparation of an object of historical or collecting cultural property for possible threats. During an impending crisis, there is an increase in the readiness of services and people responsible for the protection of cultural property. The occurrence of a crisis situation or armed conflict makes it necessary to take the necessary measures in accordance with pre-established rules and guidelines (such as protection plans, civil defense plan or instructions to the armed forces). The final level is securing and documenting the resulting losses after the threat has ceased. Experience emphatically demonstrates that the effectiveness of rescue efforts often depends on the appropriate degree of prior preparation and safeguards, as well as the proper training of owners, managers and users of historic sites and personnel of institutions that collect cultural assets, that is, actions that can and should be taken in the time before the threat occurs. Thus, it is crucial that the objects, collections and personnel dealing with them be duly prepared to meet the threats and challenges posed by crisis situations and armed conflicts, which are diverse in nature and difficult to predict.
A comprehensive approach to the protection of cultural property in crisis situations and armed conflicts requires the inclusion of both civilian and uniformed perspectives, the exchange of experiences and the cooperation of many experts to properly address the multisectoral nature of issues related to the protection of cultural property in situations of special threats, and the development of an educational program that takes into account components of professional knowledge and skills from several fields and scientific disciplines.
The aim of the project was to develop from scratch a new course of postgraduate studies in the field of protection of cultural property in emergencies and war. Within the framework of the project, an interdisciplinary team of experts was formed to create an innovative postgraduate program, a course curriculum in the field of cultural property protection, and to prepare and publish a set of scientific publications (Monograph-Textbook, Volume 1., Monograph-Textbook, Volume 2, Selection of Domestic Sources, Selection of International Sources, Collection of Case Studies and Instructions). The project conducted workshops and project meetings aimed at verifying the effectiveness and relevance of the emerging postgraduate program, as well as education and dissemination of knowledge in the field of protection of cultural property in crisis and war situations. The project also included a series of online meetings titled “Over coffee about heritage,” in which invited guests discussed such topics as fire hazards, underwater heritage, and tourism as a threat to heritage.