UNESCO to support Sri Ksetra project

By Cherry Thein
Volume 31, No. 615
February 20 - 26, 2012

THE United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation plans to launch its first cultural project in Myanmar in 10 years, a senior official said last week.

The capacity-building project aims to develop knowledge of preservation techniques and management of government staff at the Pyu city of Sri Ksetra in Bago Region.

The Italian government has contributed 400,000 euros (US$526,000) to the 12-month project, which has been designed in close collaboration with the Ministry of Culture’s Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library.

UNESCO assistant director general for culture Mr Francesco Bandarin said in a statement that Myanmar faced a “huge” task to preserve its rich cultural heritage and the project would raise awareness and technical capacity for restoring and managing cultural heritage sites.

It will build up capacity in three priority areas, including conserving and managing heritage sites, establishing cultural heritage information management system using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and nominating World Heritage sites, according to UNESCO.

Mr Sardar Umar Alam, program manager for UNESCO Myanmar, said the funding from Italy would help mobilise international expertise to assist Myanmar in protecting its important heritage sites, including Bagan and Sri Ksetra, an ancient Pyu settlement.

Training in technical conservation will be delivered through on-site demonstration restoration activities, resulting in visible and practical improvement at selected sites, UNESCO said in a statement.

Deputy head of mission at the Italian embassy in Yangon Ms Mara Borserini told The Myanmar Times by email that Italy has more World Heritage sites than any other country and has a keen interest in safeguarding cultural heritage both at home and abroad.

“We aimed at supporting the commitment of the government to protect the magnificent historical and cultural heritage of the country,” she said.

Italian experts worked on the preservation of mural paintings at Bagan that were damaged during the 1975 earthquake. Unique 12th century cloth paintings found in Bagan temples were also restored in Italy at the beginning of the 1980s.

She said Italian experts would be invited to conduct seminars at the archaeological school in Pyay as part of the project.