In February 2023, a ten-day workshop on the conservation of material heritage of Sikkim was organised under the aegis of the Tata Trusts Art Conservation Initiative, in partnership with the Kolkata Institute of Art Conservation and the Sikkim State Archives, Govt. of Sikkim.
Sikkim is the gateway to Bhutan, Nepal and West Bengal, and holds significant sacred collections in its several monasteries, comprising primarily textiles in the form of thangkas and costumes, wooden and metal artefacts used in rituals, and manuscripts. This workshop was aimed at spreading awareness on conservation practices and helping the Sikkim State Archives in planning for their long-term vision for conservation. Custodian to several hundred objects, many of which are family heirlooms and sourced from different parts of Sikkim, the State Archives also has a significant paper collection comprising archival documents and manuscripts. With the State museum’s construction underway, the Sikkim State Archives is primed to become a nodal conservation centre for not only Sikkim’s cultural heritage, but also of the neighbouring regions.
24 participants were trained during the workshop. The participants were primarily senior monks invited from monasteries across Sikkim, who are in-charge of their respective collections. Deputed staff from the Sikkim State Archives that will be involved long-term in the care of the archives’ collections were also invited. The workshop was led by Anupam Sah, academic consultant to the Tata Trusts Art Conservation Initiative and senior art conservator-restorer, and assisted by conservators from Kolkata Institute of Art Conservation and Himalayan Society for Heritage and Art Conservation. The participants were taught how to document objects, write out condition assessment reports, identify common signs of deterioration and damages found in paper, textiles, wood and metals objects, and undertake emergency repairs to arrest further deterioration.
Here are some glimpses of the workshop in action.