In 1989, a group of Latin American and North American conservation professionals met to discuss and identify needs of colleagues in Latin America, and to propose ways of supporting their professional activities. A questionnaire was sent to over 150 people, obtaining an 85% response. The overwhelming majority identified their main obstacle as the lack of timely information on conservation activities and news in Spanish and Portuguese, and their isolation from other professionals in the preservation field. A database of names, compiled through word of mouth, was started with the objective of creating a network and a newsletter in Spanish called APOYO to fill the gap of news and information and to connect people.
This network has continued to grow and currently it includes over 4,500 conservation and preservation professionals. In 1994, ICCROM offered the support of their Office of Database Management to merge APOYO’s database of over 1,500 names with ICCROM’s database. For the past 13 years, the resulting database has been maintained and updated by ICCROM. We continue to receive requests to add names, and thanks to ICCROM’s support we continue growing. These professionals are drawn from throughout the Americas, as well as Spain, Portugal and other countries. In addition to this wide geographical representation, there has purposefully been ample participation from the diverse specialties involved in conservation, such as paper, library and archival materials, textiles, photographs, paintings, ethnographic objects, sculpture, metals, stone, and natural science. The network includes other individuals in related fields, among them museum, library and archives directors, curators, collections managers, educators, archaeologists, and architects.
Starting in 1990, APOYO produced, printed and distributed a newsletter consisting of one or two issues a year. For 17 years it has been the only continuous publication, on conservation issues reaching the wide Spanish and Portuguese speaking audience of the Americas (including Brazil), the Caribbean, Portugal and Spain. It has been co-edited and produced by Amparo R. de Torres and Ann Seibert, in collaboration with a group of volunteers from various countries who identified material for newsletter publication and sent it to the editors. This material included articles, future events, training opportunities, and other news of interest. Translations into Spanish and Portuguese were completed as necessary. The incoming mail containing requests for names to be added to the database was forwarded to the ICCROM in Rome. From 1994 to 2001, the paper printing and mail distribution of the newsletter was made possible by the generous support of the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute (SCMRE, formerly known as CAL).
In 1999, APOYO constructed a web site (http://imaginario.org.ar/apoyo/index.htm) hosted by Imaginario, (sponsored by the Instituto Provincial de la Cultura in Mendoza, Argentina,) where all past issues of the APOYO Newsletter are available, as well as other publications and links to conservation related sites. There is also a mirror web site at (http://apoyo.solinet.net) hosted by SOLINET, the Southeastern Library Network, Inc. in Atlanta, GA, USA.
Due to changes in administration and budget cuts at the Smithsonian Institution, in 2001 APOYO stopped receiving the support for printing and distribution of the directory and the newsletter in paper format. After 2001, the publication continued in electronic format only. The most recent issue, available electronically only, is APOYO’s Boletín 13:1, 2003. It is not known at this time how many professionals are unable to receive the information in APOYO due to a lack of access to electronic resources.
A directory of individuals and institutions involved in the conservation and preservation of the cultural patrimony of the Americas was published in 1996, 1998 and in 2001. This directory, the first one of its kind for Latin America, was the result of the cooperative project between the ICCROM and APOYO started in 1994 when the databases were merged. The integrated and expanded database was used both to mail the Newsletter and to produce the Directory. The Directory was printed and distributed with the support of the Smithsonian (SCMRE). The purpose of the Directory has been to develop the network within regions and has been an invaluable resource to many who work in isolation.
The APOYO/CCI Wall Chart Project:
A wall chart entitled "Framework for the Preservation of Museum Collections" created by the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) was translated into Spanish by APOYO volunteers through a joint agreement with the CCI. In 1999, the wall chart printed on one side in English and on the other side in Spanish was distributed by the Smithsonian (SCMRE), free of charge to the APOYO membership. The poster was developed by the CCI in 1994 and contains the preventive conservation methodology developed by the Preventive Conservation Services Division of the CCI. It is used to guide an institution in the process of doing an assessment of the agents of deterioration that threaten the collections. These agents of deterioration are ranked in descending order from the most devastating and fastest acting to the ones that will give staff more time to act. The wall chart outlines also the steps that must be taken to prevent the deterioration. Donations of synthetic paper by Yupo Corporation of Virginia and the printing by Reese Press of Baltimore, Maryland made this project possible.
Other translation projects:
In addition, the APOYO translators have contributed their expertise in several translation projects for other groups such as the American Institute for Conservation, the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Park Service, the Smithsonian Institution, and Heritage Preservation in the USA, and the Centro Nacional de Conservación y Restauración de Chile in Chile. The material translated and reviewed by APOYO has been used as reference material in training and other information dissemination initiatives by several organizations, among others the Getty Conservation Institute. Scholarships and Awards for Latin American professionals and institutions: APOYO worked closely with several organizations to make funding and travel bursaries available to qualified individuals to attend professional meetings. This project started in 1996 and still in operation. It has offered scholarships to over 200 professionals from Latin America and the Caribbean to attend international conservation meetings in the USA and Canada. The Getty Grant Program and the Getty Conservation Institute of the USA, the Vitae Foundation of Brazil, the Andes Foundation of Chile, and the Antorchas Foundation of Argentina have funded this project.
The scholarships have provided an important forum to professionals all over the Hemisphere, where ideas, technology and cultural exchanges have resulted in closer ties and friendships. Seeds have been planted and training opportunities have developed in several countries.
Starting in 2000, APOYO obtained funding from four important manufactures and distributors of conservation products to establish awards for Latin American institutions. The Gaylord, the Metal Edge, the Museum Services Corporation, and the University Products Awards for US$1,500.00 each were given annually to institutions that excelled in coping with difficult economic circumstances in caring for their collections. The awards were given in the form of material selected from the catalogue of each company. The awards include the cost of transportation of the goods to the closest port or airport to the award recipient.