Middle East Photograph Preservation Initiative (MEPPI)

conservation image
The GCI is collaborating with the Arab Image Foundation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the University of Delaware on the Middle East Photograph Preservation Initiative (MEPPI). Over a five year period (2011–2015) this multi-faceted initiative is pursuing a program of complementary activities encompassing research, training and capacity-building, and building awareness with the objectives of:

• identifying and assessing significant photographic collections throughout the Middle East
• promoting their preservation and visibility
• training and build capacity in the preservation of photograph collections in the region

The initiative is supported in part by generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Background
Photograph collections in the Middle East (defined for MEPPI as the countries of the eastern Mediterranean, North Africa, and the Gulf) represent the broad spectrum of photography, including nineteenth-century albumen prints and glass plate negatives, twentieth-century black-and-white and color prints, plastic-based negatives and positive transparencies and moving image works on film-base and magnetic media.
Awareness of the importance of this photographic heritage has grown in recent years and, along with it, recognition of the need for a broader understanding of collections within the region and for local expertise in the preservation of photographic collections.
Research
As part of MEPPI's research, the Arab Image Foundation is undertaking a survey of photograph collections in the Middle East to identify institutions and individuals with significant photographic collections. The survey is recording pertinent collection information, including their size, significance, mission, condition, and resources, which is being compiled into a database maintained by the Arab Image Foundation to assist individual researchers and institutions interested in keeping, studying, and making available photographic collections.
Training
MEPPI's training focuses on three courses each of which consists of three phases that span a period of nine months: 1) an eight-day workshop; 2) an eight-month period of assigned practical work that participants carry out at their own institutions using the new skills and information learned from the workshop; and 3) a follow-up meeting which allows instructors and participants to review progress made over the previous months.
This three-part learning model allows participants to apply information and skills acquired during the workshop to their own work environment while remaining in contact with a course instructor who serves as a mentor. It also maintains and encourages communications between participants and exposes instructors to the particular challenges that may be faced by participants when implementing what they've learned. The follow-up meetings that conclude each course bring participants and instructors together for further instruction and discussion, targeted to participants' specific experiences during the previous practical phase of the course.
The first MEPPI course began with a workshop in Beirut, Lebanon in November 2011 and finished with a follow-up meeting in Rabat, Morocco in September 2012. The second course began with a workshop in Abu Dhabi in November 2012 and concludes with a follow-up meeting in Istanbul in September 2013. The third course began with a workshop in Amman in January 2014 and will conclude with a follow-up at a site to be determined.
Symposium on the Photographic Legacy of the Middle East
Following the three courses, MEPPI will organize a multi-day symposium in 2015 that will bring together professionals affiliated with institutions with photography collections. The symposium will highlight the rich and varied collections of photographic materials in the region, and provide information on challenges for their stewardship and preservation, as well as options for a region-wide response for meeting the needs of this heritage.

Last updated: March 2014