Culture ministry to create registry of professionals to "revive" monument preservation tradition

Issues with the lack of professionals in Georgia qualified for work on cultural heritage monuments were demonstrated in the ongoing rehabilitation work on Gelati UNESCO World Heritage Site over the recent years. Photo via National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia., 06 May 2021 - 14:33, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Ministry of Culture, Sport and Youth of Georgia has launched an initiative to collect information on professionals of restoration and conservation of cultural heritage monuments, hoping to "revive" the tradition by creating a registry of certified craftspeople.

The announcement comes as one of the first moves of the recently appointed minister Thea Tsulukiani, and seeks to address the issue of a lack of qualified local professionals in the field, particularly demonstrated with problems of rehabilitation of the Gelati UNESCO World Heritage in Georgia's west over the past year.

On Thursday the ministry announced an open call for professionals of six categories of monument-related work, from stone work to roofing and blacksmithery, in order to create the registry and only allow work on heritage sites for certified individuals and organisations starting in May 2022.

A commission at the ministry will hold interviews with craftspeople applying for the certified status in their relevant profile, with the interviewees either immediately added to the registry, or asked to undergo theoretical and practical training before receiving the approved status.

In its announcement the ministry explicitly referred to the botched rehabilitation process of the roof of the Gelati Monastery Complex as one of the cases that highlighted problems with monument restoration and conservation in Georgia.

State cultural authorities revealed earlier this year they had to ask professionals from the UNESCO World Heritage Centre to visit the country and assess the work on the site where newly installed roof tiling proved defective and led to rainwater leaks into the building last year.

The problem was acknowledged by independent professionals including art historian Mzia Janjalia, who, when speaking in reaction to the damage in the roofing, told TV Pirveli a proper solution to the issue needed to involve foreign professionals.

The culture ministry's call is now open with the deadline of June 15, with professionals added to the eventual registry also set to receive opportunities for practical work as well as certificates after a one-year period.