About the Development of Conservation Education

The material remnants that bear trace of early cultures reflect the historical development which we establish our future on it. Against the factors  that threaten our cultural and historical heritage’s permanency and continuity, architectures, archaeologists and art historians have been studying for a long time to protect the works  that form  the equity of the scientific studies.Though not having so much cultural heritage in the world contrary to Turkey, the developed and the developing countries they have made giant investments. By opening scientific and comprehensive programmes, they have brought up the experts of the subject. Especially, after the 2nd World War, the activity of the protecting  the cultural heritage went beyond a craft and gained a scientific quality and it was the cause of the increase in the education programmes containing protection. By this means, increasing and diversified research techniques have been put into service.

It is obvious that the programmes which have activities in this field, can be counted on the fingers of the hand, and the conservators who have been brought up is in a limited amount, don’t satisfy the need. Despite the existing employment opportunities, because of the insufficient number of the qualified personnel, our cultural assets are either abandoned to their fate or they are left to the mercy of the uneducated personnel who have entered in the occupation with a limited knowledge and who do the applications  via trial and error. Today our museums, ruins, historical cities are full of the examples of damaged works resulted from the unconscious  applications. In our country, the conservation–restoration  technicians who graduated from the vocational education programmes are insufficient in decision making and using the initiative phases with their limited knowledge. In applications, the technicians should be monitored and inspected by a conservation personnel or an expert .

Consequently, first of all, bringing up the protection personnel and the experts who have got the knowledge and the ability of doing scientific research, determining the method, application and evaluating the application, at least the graduate level  of instruction  should be given.  Thus, when looked into the examples in the developed countries, it is seen that the education programmes on protection/conservation and restoration contain variety of cultural assets changes from 4 to 7 years. With these problems and Turkey’s historical heritage, considering the fact that it is one of the most in need of conservators, in our country, the programmes  on estate cultural heritage protection should be configured and supported at graduate and post-graduate levels of education.

When the universities in Turkey are viewed which give education about protection and restoration, it can be seen that most of the education  is at Vocational Institutions where 2 year conservation and restoration upper secondary education  programmes are existing. It can also be seen that  the post-graduate restoration programmes about estates are mostly formed at Architecture faculties.

Within the scope of the planned programme for protecting Architectural heritage was started first at 1966 at METU, The Faculty of Architecture. After METU, the departments at post-graduate level were opened, in an order; at Istanbul Technical University, at Yıldız Technical University, at State Fine Arts Academy (Mimar Sinan  Fine Arts University) and at Dokuz Eylül University.

In Turkey, newly developing 4 year education  programmes  for asset cultural  heritage are followed–up  in the form of  two different  kinds of frameworks; science-literature and Fine arts faculties. These programmes, some of which are not active, with some differences, basically have made for  the subjects of the protection and restoration of the asset which is a qualified archeologic and ethnographic  art objects. In Istanbul University, at  the faculty of Literature, the department of Asset Cultural Heritage Protection/Conservation and Restoration is the first and the leading programme that gives a graduate education. Batman University, Konya Seljuk  University, and Denizli Pamukkale University’s science and literature faculties are the ones which established the departments by following up this programme. In Kocaeli University,  the department of cultural heritage conservation and restoration and in Gazi University, at the faculty of fine arts the department of cultural heritage conservation and restoration can be given as examples to the established education programmes. It is possible to say that the fine arts faculties are more available in reaching higher efficiency of these programmes in education. There are some links between  these faculties  like basic art sciences, arts, sculpture, ceramics, textile, sometimes architecture and the department of protection and restoration that will support or complete each other with respect to the research and application subject.

On the one hand, the production of  an art object, on the other hand  the production of  the produced art objects in the past and the present, different education are targeted as the question. It is certain  that  the  meeting these programmes under the same framework, thanks to the common courses which include both design-production and protection–restoration techniques, will contribute to strengthen the interaction/ collaboration among the departments and will raise the quality of students. Thus, in developed countries, the programmes on cultural  heritage conservation and restoration, because of the collaboration we mentioned above, are configured in Fine Arts Faculties .

The strength of the mentioned education programmes based on external and internal evaluations are in a great amount. The most important one is, being counted as the human being’s common heritage, the protection of the cultural estates, today it is a universal  subject overemphasized and the attention to this subject in Turkey and in the world is getting increasing.

To obtain the permanency and the continuity, the international protection organizations (UNESCO, ICOMOS, ICCROM, ICOM and so on.) are studying a lot and they are supporting the education and the application projects for bringing up qualified member of profession and expert. The other strong aspects of the programmes are, the existence of wide range of employment opportunities for graduates depending  on our cultural and historical heritage richness. Despite the existing employment opportunities, the programmes that are active in this field and the scarcity of the conservators/protection personnel make these programmes more important. Without doubt,  the education process  in this field which is too new to Turkey, we are confronted by basic problems and weaknesses. The most important problem is the recruitment  of experts/educators. The other problem is the inadequacy of physical conditions for applied education and the research. (the library/laboratory/technical equipment and so on.) This situation causes the weaknesses in the instruction and education, research activities to be pursued in high efficiency. Abolishing these weaknesses and forming the ideal conditions, will accelerate the perception and the extensification of the protection consciousness through the country wide and will accelerate due to the local and central admissions’ obtaining the enough fund. Another problem related to the field is that the publication which will be used as a helper are mostly in a foreign language. This situation presents  to both instructors and students to learn a foreign language to follow up the developments and to increase their knowledge. This problem can be  possibly solved  by the universities that will obtain courses  and certificate programmes to their students and instructors. On the other hand, in this field researchers and educators have the responsibilities of the studies for  increasing  the number of Turkish  publications. The universities must support  these studies.

On Branching Out In Conservation Education And Continuity

The conservation science is a discipline that gathers a lot of subjects and evaluates them according to its study field, such as; archaeology, arts history, chemistry, physics, biology, archeometry, fine arts, museology and photography. During the protection of the cultural assets, according to the material type, in different shapes, different kind of matter and using different techniques and applications are performed. This situation causes variety in both conservation science and the education, according to the material types and the fields in the developed countries. It is certain that being an expert in the featured fields like painting, paper, leather, wood, mosaics gain a quality in advanced applications.

Moreover, it is disputable to what extend the variety brings benefit to Turkey that has the museums, except some of them do not have the conservators and the protection consciousness is not popular and the basic protection standards are immature. Thus, in Turkey, the graduate programmes under the heading of ‘Old Tile Conservation‘  in terms of focusing on one material can’t contribute in high efficiency to the country’s necessities.

The existing  opportunities  and the real  needs of our country  reveals  the necessity of being  an expert  must be configured  on the basic education, at graduate level, brings in vocational  knowledge and ability. Hence, in the Conservation Education Regulations  that ICOSMOS published in 1993,  it is emphasized that educational plans necessitates to be shaped in due to each cultural region’s traditions, needs, managing and economic conditions. For Turkey, like general practitioners who have got the basic 6-year education, at museums and archaeological excavations, the practitioner conservators who can apply at least prevention and effective protection methods should be the aim, the  education programmes should be planned according to satisfy these needs. To the conservators, who have gained the basic knowledge, and the ability by completing these education programmes, in accordance with their preferences, for example stone protection, mosaic protection, painting protection, metal protection, paper protection, tile protection, and so on. In these fields with post-graduate education courses and certificate programmes, it should be given way to be an expert. Apart from the specialisation  that is based on direct material types, specialization can be aimed at in the protection fields such as; museums, archeologic fields and underwater foundling. It is very important to obtain the continuity of protecting the cultural heritage, the application of continuous education programmes  for the member of profession, the information of protection attitudes and approach, should be delivered to the people and the institutions  which have got the effect on the protection policies. Seeking a settlement  with the institutions and the organizations about the protection field, activities like seminars, symposiums, workshops to be held and joint projects to be organized and the developing methods and technologies to be followed–up and their update should be obtained. For this, national, regional  and international educator, expert and student exchange programmes should been encouraged.


Prof. Dr. Bekir ESKiCi