image: La Inmaculada Concepcion Parish Church in Guiuan (Eastern Samar), Philippines
Prepared by: Grace Barrand & Lia Sumichan, Masters Students of the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation
Facilitators: Dr. Nicole Tse, the Grimwade Centre, Robert Balarbar, National Museum Philippines and Guy Custodio, Consultant Artist Restorer
In November 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan (also internationally known as Typhoon Yolanda) devastated the provinces of Leyte and Samar in the Philippines. The typhoon destroyed numerous structures across the affected areas, including La Inmaculada Concepcion Parish Church in Guiuan (Eastern Samar), which housed culturally significant ceiling paintings, retablos and extensive shell ornamentation from the Guiuan ocean. Due to these significant features, prior to the disaster the Church was declared a National Cultural Treasure under the Philippine Registry of Cultural Properties in 2001, meaning that the heritage management of the Church was under the jurisdiction of the National Museum of the Philippines. The interdisciplinary team of heritage professionals from the National Museum together with local artists and parish community, were tasked with the restoration and conservation of the moveable and immoveable heritage of the Church. Funds for the restoration came from the Philippine government and a grant from the United States Ambassador’s Fund for Culture. This project began in 2014 and continued until July 2019.
As part of the Content in the Field subject led by Dr Nicole Tse, students from the University of Melbourne Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation traveled to Guiuan in July 2019 to support the conservation management of the Church. Across the week, students collaborated with the National Museum and parish community to host a range of preservation related workshops for the Church community in themes such as risk management, dry cleaning techniques and paintings conservation. Take a look at the Behind the Scenes video to learn more about the workshops and its participants.