International Courses of ICCROM

Preservation and restoration of the monuments of wooden architecture

In the fall of 2019 the second international course of ICCROM “Wooden Architecture Conservation and Restoration” was held in the city of Petrozavodsk and on the island of Kizhi in the Republic of Karelia.

The course was initiated and organized by the Kizhi Museum-Preserve with the support of the International Research Center for the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM).

The first international course was conducted 2 years ago and became the first ICCROM course in the Russian Federation. The preparation of the course was preceded by signing a Memorandum of Understanding between the Kizhi Museum-Preserve and ICCROM at the 39th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Bonn in 2015. 

Experts of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) noted the professionalism of specialists at the Kizhi Museum-Preserve and recommended to extend their experience of preserving the monuments of wooden architecture to other areas of the world and Russia. ICCROM experts valued the unique experience of the museum in the restoration of the Church of the Transfiguration. They also saw that the specialists of the Kizhi museum were eager to organize the educational process for foreign specialists.

More than 60 applications from around the world were received during the application period for both the first and second course of ICCROM. 18 specialists from 15 countries participated in the first course and 15 specialists from 14 countries took part in the second. The participants came from Argentina, Australia, Germany, Greece, India, Spain, Canada, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Palestine, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey, the Philippines, Finland, Sweden, Sri Lanka, Estonia, and Japan.

The course participants are specialists in various professions with extensive experience in the preservation of wooden architecture. They not only discovered new sides of their profession but also shared their professional experience and created new business contacts. Coming from different cultures, our participants shared traditional skills of wooden preservation and restoration from their countries. The lecturers and the instructors of the courses were the best practitioners of the Kizhi Museum-Preserve and the Republic of Karelia as well as invited Russian and foreign experts. In 2019 the course instructors were specialists from Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Italy.

During the course, its participants became acquainted with the specific characteristics of Russian wooden architecture, learned the techniques and methods of monitoring and preventive maintenance of wooden architecture monuments, and studied a set of practical skills for the restoration of wooden architecture.

Upon the program completion, all participants received participation certificates of the ICCROM course as well as state-recognized certificates of advanced training of the UNESCO Chair “Wooden Architecture Research and Preservation” at Petrozavodsk State University. The participants of the last course in Russia were given new publications of the Kizhi Museum-Preserve: the album “Doing artlessly, as measure and beauty say” and the manual “Restoration of the elements of historical wooden monuments” written by Andrey Kovalchuk, the head of the Carpentry Center of the museum and an experienced teacher.

The Training and Methodological Center for the Preservation of Monuments of Wooden Architecture (UMC) of the Kizhi Museum-Preserve organizes not only international ICCROM courses but other educational programs as well. Since 2014 more than 300 specialists, students, and volunteers from Russia and other countries have completed training and practice at the Training and Methodological Center. All participants of educational programs remain friends of the Kizhi Museum-Preserve also after their graduation. The participants of the first course of ICCROM managed to create and to keep a friendly relationship with each other even after the course was finished, constantly exchanging professional information and experience. We regularly receive news about how our graduates worldwide use the skills they acquired at the ICCROM courses. For example, they give lectures at different educational institutions, share their knowledge at professional seminars, use their experience and knowledge in various restoration projects, and dream about visiting Kizhi island again. Two participants of the course from Germany and Estonia came back to Kizhi Island to take part in the restoration of the Church of the Transfiguration. Two other participants from Russia and Finland attended the Wooden Architecture Forum. Our participant from Canada is currently organizing a practice trip for his students to Kizhi island. We are confident that the second source participants will also become friends of the Kizhi Museum-Preserve, and we hope to be partners in new joint projects.

The Russian course “Wooden Architecture Preservation and Restoration” is not the only ICCROM course on the preservation of wooden architecture. In total there are two more courses in Japan and Norway. For a long time we have known and cooperated with the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage / Riksantikvaren for organizing our course in Norway. We got acquainted with the Norwegian experience in 2016 and learned a lot of interesting and useful ideas, and in 2017 and 2019 representatives of the Directorate were invited as lecturers for the ICCROM course in Russia.

The Norwegian International course “Wood Conservation Technology” (ICWCT) has been held since 1984. 

The Russian ICCROM course “Wooden Architecture Conservation and Restoration” is held every two years. The next course is planned for September 2021, and the application round will open six months before the start of the course. We invite all specialists with experience in the preservation of the monuments of wooden architecture to apply for our course.

Olga Titova, Head of the Management and Development Service
of the World Heritage Site “Kizhi pogost”