After the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Smithsonian worked with a wide array of dedicated, caring professionals from around the world to support the recovery of damaged and at risk Haitian cultural heritage.
The earthquake destroyed and damaged museums, churches, galleries, libraries and archives containing Haiti’s treasured artifacts, artworks, monuments, archives, and rare books. Inspired by the work of Corine Wegner, a real-life “Monuments Woman,” and building on long-standing relationships from the 2004 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Smithsonian teams worked with Haitian counterparts to craft a plan for recovering and preserving Haitian cultural heritage.
Smithsonian built partnerships with the Haitian government and critical Haitian NGOs, international partners, and U.S. organizations around these efforts, among them the U.S. President’s Committee for the Arts and the Humanities, the U.S. Department of State, USAID, UNESCO, ICCROM, the Broadway League, the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) and the International Committee for the Blue Shield. Smithsonian worked with these partners to create the Haiti Cultural Recovery Project to train and support Haitians in recovering and preserving their cultural heritage. Today this work continues in a new, permanent conservation facility at Quisqueya University in Port-au-Prince, where Haitian students and professionals can learn the latest conservation techniques and carry on this work into the future, to preserve their own cultural heritage.
Stephanie Hornbeck is Director of Conservation at Caryatid Conservation Services, Inc., her private practice in object and sculpture conservation based in Miami. From 2010-2012, she served as Chief Conservator for the Smithsonian Institution Haiti Cultural Recovery Project in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, directing conservation recovery efforts of cultural patrimony damaged in the January 2010 earthquake.
Olsen Jean Julien is an engineer and architect who has worked to preserve and promote the rich cultural heritage of Haiti for more than a decade. He served as Haiti’s Minister of Culture and Communications from 2008–2009, is a professor at the State University of Haiti and at Quisqueya University, and also one of the principals of Phenixience, an architecture and engineering firm.
As Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture, Richard Kurin is responsible for most of Smithsonian’s national museums and a variety of cultural and education programs, as well as several research centers including the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Richard has served on the U.S. Commission for UNESCO and advised UNESCO on the drafting of the 2003 International Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, now ratified by more than 160 nations.
Corine Wegener is Director of the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative (SCRI), an outreach program dedicated to the preservation of cultural heritage in crisis situations in the U.S. and abroad.