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Smithsonian to Host Conference on Cultural Property Protection

?On Saturday morning, April 25, 2015, a 7.8-magnitude quake rocked Nepal. The quake was ultimately felt across South Asia�snow avalanched down Mount Everest, buildings fell, mud-joined huts collapsed.�

By the end of the night, and after serious aftershocks, more than 8,000 lay dead, with countless more injured. And another layer of loss�the historic heart of Kathmandu, filled with centuries old temples�now lay in ruins.�

In contrast to the sudden tremor, longstanding fighting has taken its toll on the lives of civilians in Syria and Iraq where survivors are left to endure loss of loved ones, their homes, and also their heritage.�

Countless artifacts have been looted from illicit excavations and the pillaging of museums, libraries, shops, galleries, and homes. Stolen and smuggled pieces are often damaged and lost, and few ever return to where they rightfully belong. The collective memory, pride of place, and sense of identity are all stolen.�

The Smithsonian opens the National Conference on Cultural Property Protection each year in a similar way with the Year-in-Review presentation typically offered by board member, Robert Combs, director of security and visitor services for The J. Paul Getty Trust.�

The annual conference will be held June 1-3, 2016, in Washington, D.C., at the National Museum of Natural History�and the Newseum. Participants from large and small cultural organizations attend, many of which oversee security portfolios, since that is the foundation of the gathering.�

The Year-in-Review articulates the year�s thefts, crimes, fires, and other emergency scenarios at museums and cultural organizations around the world�or at least as many that can be shared in roughly an hour. �

This introductory presentation is a tradition. It gives participants a chance to reflect upon yesterday�s challenges, and tomorrow�s risks. Participants learn from these unfortunate experiences and together, try to become more resilient.

The agenda will feature security professionals and experts on behavior analysis, as well as cultural preservation specialists, and communications and visitor services practitioners. The keynote address will be given by Georgetown Professor of Psychology Fathali M. Moghaddam.

Learn more about the National Conference on Cultural Property Protection and register online�

Amy L. Marino�is a senior program officer at the Smithsonian. She contributes to the central planning and development of the Smithsonian's vast collections (138 million objects), including collections management and emergency planning. Her career at the Smithsonian spans more than a dozen years, including five years as an analyst within Smithsonian's security operation.