The devastating earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25, 2015 was followed by an important second earthquake on May 12 which caused heavy casualties and damaged many World Heritage sites.
In the Katmandu valley, more than 30 monuments – temples and museums alike – have been destroyed and 120 undergone severe damage.
Following the catastrophe, ICOM and the Smithsonian Institution, under the guidance of ICCROM and ICOMOS, have decided to come together to carry out two missions. The objective was to respond to the joint request from Nepalese authorities and UNESCO to provide assistance for the preservation of the country's cultural heritage.
The objective of the first mission, which was carried out in late May, was to provide emergency assistance to local experts and to evaluate the immediate needs for the preservation of immovable and movable heritage.
Highlights include our team's visit of the Katmandu, Patan and Swyambhu sites, the National Museum of Nepal and the Hanuman Dhoka museum whose 6,000 object collection demanded immediate attention as the building had undergone severe damage. In the face of looming threats such as monsoon and bulldozer clearing, priority was given to the search for a secure site to store the objects.
The second mission, entitled "First Aid to Nepal's Cultural Heritage and risk reduction" is currently underway and shall last until the end of June.
Its aim is to provide training for local museum professional and volunteers in preservation, emergency displacement and storage of collections.