11 March, 2024

Training course in the Conservation of Material Heritage of Sikkim (Wood and Metals)

A three-month training course in the conservation of the material heritage of Sikkim (Wood and Metals) kicked off on March 11 at the Sikkim State Archives in Gangtok. The training course is being implemented by the Himalayan Society of Heritage and Art Conservation (HIMSHACO), Ranibagh, where learnings and expertise built through its partnership with the Tata Trusts under its Art Conservation Initiative, is being applied.

This course is an extension of the efforts made under the Tata Trusts Art Conservation Initiative, where in February 2023, a ten-day workshop was conducted in partnership with the Sikkim State Archives, Govt. of Sikkim to instruct participants in the best practices of preventive conservation and help establish a space for an upcoming conservation centre at the premises of the Sikkim State Museum (which is under construction).

Ten participants will undergo training in conservation practices specific to wood and metals in the Sikkim region. These comprise four Sikkim State archives staff that will be responsible for handling the care of the Sikkim State Museum collection; 1 trainee in-charge of the museum collection of Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, and 5 monks from different monasteries across Sikkim that will serve as custodians of monastic collections. Designed as an immersive and intensive course, it lays stress on practical training as the cohort of participants lack formal training in conservation science. The course is also designed to focus on traditional methods of object care that may be followed by participants. Faculty comprises of senior conservators in India, material scientists, and mid-career conservators who have trained previously under the Tata Trusts Art Conservation Initiative, building on work done over the past five years. Apart from training, the outcomes from the course include the establishment of a working conservation lab equipped with basic conservation infrastructure and materials.

This is the first of two training courses that will be implemented in partnership with the Sikkim State Archives and Museum, Govt. of Sikkim in 2024. The second course, planned for later in the year, will focus on the conservation of painted surfaces (including paper, textiles and wall paintings).

Some highlights from the course are presented below: