International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property

International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property
Abbreviation ICCROM
Motto Conserving culture, promoting diversity
Formation 1956
Type Intergovernmental Organization (IGO)
Purpose conservation-restoration
Headquarters Rome, Italy
  • Via di San Michele 13, 00153 Rome, Italy
Region served
135 Member States
Official language
English, French
Stefano De Caro

The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the preservation of cultural heritage worldwide through training, information, research, cooperation and advocacy programmes. It aims to enhance the field of conservation-restoration and raise awareness to the importance and fragility of cultural heritage.

The creation of the Centre took place as a result of a proposal at the UNESCO General Conference held in New Delhi, in 1956. Three years later, the Centre was established in Rome, Italy, where its headquarters remain to this day.

ICCROM responds to the needs of its Member States, which are currently at 135.[1]


ICCROM’s mission is defined by a set of statutes that were drafted shortly before its establishment (and revised on 25 November 2009).[2]

Article 1, Purpose and functions

The 'International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property', hereinafter called 'ICCROM', shall contribute to the worldwide conservation and restoration of cultural property by initiating, developing, promoting and facilitating conditions for such conservation and restoration. ICCROM shall exercise, in particular, the following functions:

  1. collect, study and circulate information concerned with scientific, technical and ethical issues relating to the conservation and restoration of cultural property;
  2. coordinate, stimulate or institute research in this domain by means, in particular, of assignments entrusted to bodies or experts, international meetings, publications and the exchange of specialists;
  3. give advice and make recommendations on general or specific questions relating to the conservation and restoration of cultural property;
  4. promote, develop and provide training relating to the conservation and restoration of cultural property and raise the standards and practice of conservation and restoration work;
  5. encourage initiatives that create a better understanding of the conservation and restoration of cultural property.


ICCROM's mission is fulfilled through five areas of activity: training, information, research, cooperation and advocacy.


ICCROM contributes to capacity building through the development of educational materials, training activities worldwide, internships and fellows. Since 1965, ICCROM has offered courses to mid-career professionals on a wide range of topics that include archaeological site conservation, architectural records and inventories, built heritage conservation, conservation decision making, cultural heritage management, preventive conservation in museums and risk management to endangered collections. Other courses are focused on specific materials such as stone, wood, or sound and image collections, and others still focus on the conservation of heritage in specific regional areas, such as the Arab region or Southeast Asia.[3]


The ICCROM library is one of the world’s leading sources of information on the conservation and restoration of cultural heritage. It contains more than 115,000 registered references and 1,800 specialized journals in more than 60 languages. In addition, the archive contains institutional records that date back to ICCROM’s creation, as well as over 200,000 images of cultural heritage worldwide in relation to ICCROM’s scientific and educational activities. The website is a portal to comprehensive information about courses, activities, international events, and employment and training opportunities in the conservation field.[3]


ICCROM facilitates a vast network of conservation professionals and institutions through which it organizes and coordinates meetings to devise common approaches and methodologies. It also promotes the definition of internationally agreed ethics, criteria and technical standards for conservation practice. The in-house laboratory is also a reference point and resource for professionals, course participants, interns and fellows of the organization.[3]


ICCROM carries out all of its activities in collaboration with a vast number of institutional and professional partners. Additionally, it serves its Member States in the form of collaborative projects, training, and technical advice. [3]


ICCROM disseminates teaching materials and organizes workshops and conferences to raise public awareness and support for conservation.[3]


The end of the Second World War came with the need to repair monuments and other forms of cultural heritage that had been either damaged or destroyed. At the same time, other countries were emerging from colonization and were eager to industrialize, reclaim and redefine their cultural identity, and train personnel to preserve their heritage.

On an international level, there was a lack of cohesive training and authoritative bodies to guide countries in rebuilding and protecting their heritage. Thus, during the Sixth Session of the UNESCO General Conference (1951), the Swiss government introduced a resolution that proposed the establishment of an international centre to encourage the study and awareness of methods of conservation on a global scale. This was adopted and a committee of experts were put together to decide upon the role and functions of this institution. In the Centre’s ten-year anniversary commemorative booklet ("The First Decade 1959-1969", pp. 12-13), Hiroshi Daifuku of the Section for the Development of the Cultural Heritage (UNESCO) explained,[4]

Mr. Georges Henri Rivière (then Director of ICOM) was appointed chairman of a sub-committee of the International Committee for Monuments of UNESCO for the creation of the Centre. The members of this Committee, when discussing the proposed functions of the Centre (September 25, 1953), considered that such a body could, for example:
  1. treat major problems involved in conservation, such as lighting;
  2. call upon a wide range of specialists from different countries;
  3. provide information to countries which lack laboratories;
  4. treat problems concerned with the preservation of monuments;
  5. coordinate research and having a stronger moral authority eventually prevent badly trained conservators from undertaking restoration of important works of art.

These functions would become the template for the Centre’s statutes.

In 1956 the resolution was adopted at the Ninth Session of the UNESCO General Conference in New Delhi and in 1957, an agreement was signed between the Government of the Italian Republic and UNESCO to establish this Centre in Rome.[4]

The adhesion of five Member States by 1958 allowed the Statutes to come into force, making the Centre a legal entity. Collaboration was established with other European conservation institutions, namely the Central Institute of Restoration of Italy (ICR, now ISCR) and the Royal Institute for Restoration of Works of Art (IRPA) in Belgium. A provisional council nominated by UNESCO was created to govern the Centre and in 1959, it opened in Rome with Harold J. Plenderleith, renowned Keeper at the British Museum, as its Director. The Belgian art historian, Paul Philippot was appointed Deputy Director and the first General Assembly took place in 1960 during which the first regular Council Members were elected.


Below is a timeline of key events in the Centre’s development:[5]

Organizational structure

ICCROM’s governance consists of the General Assembly, the Council and the Secretariat.[6]

General Assembly

The General Assembly is composed of delegates from all of the ICCROM Member States who convene in Rome every two years to dictate the organization’s policies, approve the programme of activities and budget, and elect the Council and Director-General.

The General Assembly also approves reports on Council and Secretariat activities, determine Member State contribution, and adopt and revise ICCROM’s Statutes and regulations, when necessary.


Members of ICCROM’s Council are elected from among the most qualified experts in the conservation-restoration field worldwide. In choosing members of Council, equitable representations from all of the cultural regions of the world, as well as relevant fields of specialization are taken into account.

The Council meets annually at the ICCROM headquarters in Rome.


The Secretariat of ICCROM consists of the Director-General and staff. The Director-General is responsible for the execution of the approved programme of activities. Staff are distributed between sectors dealing with immovable heritage (monuments, archaeological sites, historic cities, etc.), movable heritage (such as museum collections), Knowledge and Communication (the Library and Archives, publications, the web site), the didactic Laboratory, and Finance and Administration.

Member states


The ICCROM Award

Since 1979, the ICCROM Award has been granted to individuals who have given a significant contribution to the development of the institution, and who have special merit in the field of conservation, protection and restoration of cultural heritage. This award is given each biennium to one or two nominees who have been chosen by the Council. Below is the list of previous ICCROM Award recipients (in alphabetical order).[7]


  1. "About Us". Retrieved 2014-04-17.
  2. "ICCROM Statutes". Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 ICCROM Information (brochure, 2008)
  4. 1 2 Daifuku, Hiroshi (1969), "The Rome Centre: Ten Years After" (PDF), The First Decade 1959-1969, Rome
  5. ICCROM (October 2009), "50th Anniversary Special Edition" (PDF), ICCROM Newsletter 35, Rome
  6. "How We Work". Retrieved 2014-04-17.
  7. "ICCROM Award". Retrieved 2014-04-17.

External links

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