Hidden Conservation Revealed: New Media for the Presentation of Architectural Conservation in Florence

Tourism in Florence is not a recent phenomenon, beginning in the latter half of the 17th century as one of the cities visited as part of the Grand Tour. What, however, characterises tourism today in Florence is its increased number of people, many of them visiting Florence for a relatively short time. Objective of the study project is to determine how tourist sites of the World Heritage City Florence can be rendered more attractive for tourists, augmenting the appreciation of architectural heritage with a concomitant increased engagement with the site and its conservation challenges. Students made a short documentary film for tourists to be employed on a specific site, which will undergo conservation measures, in addition to interpretation boards. The communication method(s) were analysed and assessed through user feedback.
An excursion to Florence was integral part of the study project. During the excursion to Florence, students filmed conservation measures, interviews with stakeholders and relevant other sites. The films were then edited in Cottbus.

Hidden Conservation is a film by Anisha Patel, Yuka Miyoshi, Leonardo Leckie, Laura Fink, Paola Fontanella, and Anastasiya Snetkova.

Conservation Decoded is a film by Tinatin Meparishvili, Robert Haas-Zens, Lianne Oonwalla, Mahmoud Shaaban, Millem Nishikawa.

We would like to especially thank Prof. Giuseppe Centauri from the Department of Architectural Conservation at the Università di Firenze and Arch. Daniela Chiesi for the lectures on architectural conservation at the Università di Firenze, which the students from the BTU attended during the study project. With these lessons the BTU students obtained a valuable insight into historic and current challenges in architectural conservation in Florence.

A project of documentary films by 16 students from World Heritage Studies BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg for the conservation of wall paintings by Vasari in the Michelozzo in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence – Italy.

New media approach in heritage conservation aims to raise awareness of the value of the conservation.

The objective of the study project that took place in Florence from 22nd until 27th May is to raise awareness regarding the importance of the conservation of architectural heritage, especially in Florence. This project, coordinated by Alexandra Skedzuhn-Safir (Scientific Assistant of the Chair of Architectural Conservation), provides the development of documentaries on the important conservation work taking place in the courtyard of Michelozzo in Palazzo Vecchio in the historic center Florence, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1982.
The students come from countries all over the world: Germany, Italy, Georgia, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Egypt, Indonesia, India, China, Japan and Lebanon. They participated in the project by bringing together different disciplines: Architecture and Conservation, Media and Film, Tourism and History. Besides, the professional experience they possess contributing to the diversity of ideas and competencies.

The documentaries – developed by students of World Heritage Studies, the first program of study in the world to design its curriculum on the UNESCO Convention of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, Bauen und Erhalten (Building and Conservation) and Heritage Conservation and Site Management - was supervised by Ralf Schuster (filmmaker, camera man and supervising tutor of BTU media center), and will be made available to the City of Florence to promote and raise the awareness of visitors for the exceptional work to protect Florence as a heritage site.

In Florence, the excursion began with a brief introduction about managing the World Heritage Site Historic Town Florence with Chiara Bocchio, a BTU alumna of the WHS programme, and presently collaborator in UNESCO Office of the Municipality of Florence.

On the second day, Fabio Sforzi, the director of conservation work of the Vasari wall paintings in the Michelozzo courtyard, as well as the conservators Cristiana Conti and Alessandra Popple, were interviewed on site about challenges and possibilities of conservation.  Here the students had the opportunity to learn and document various conservation measures being employed.
 
Furthermore, the students of BTU together with students from the University of Florence, had the chance to attend several classes about architectural conservation taught by Giorgio Caselli (Head of the Fine Arts Department of the Municipality of Florence), Giuseppe Centauro, professor of the Department of Construction and Restoration of the Universitá degli Studi di Firenze, and arch. Daniela Chiesi. Also present at the meeting was Carlo Francini, Site Manager of the WHS Historic City Center of Florence.
 
The experience of working hand in hand on the site with the conservators, guidance from UNESCO center of the Municipality of Florence and inputs from tourists provides a broad perspective on further strategies to raise awareness on heritage conservation.

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June 1, 2016
Florence Study Project PR Team (Rahajeng Herbimanti, Cecilia Yuan Liu, Jakob Miller, Sandra Nasser, Valentina Spano)