The St. Petersburg International Center for Preservation officially opened on June 28, 1995. The center—founded jointly by the Getty Conservation Institute, the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the city of St. Petersburg—will provide opportunities for collaborative research and for information exchange about the latest findings in conservation, as part of an effort to help preserve the cultural heritage of St. Petersburg and its neighboring cities.

Tipper Gore, wife of U.S. Vice President Al Gore, was the honored guest at the center's opening ceremony. Also present were Zhores Alferov, Vice President of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Vladimir Yakovlev, Deputy Mayor of St. Petersburg; Miguel Angel Corzo, Director of the GCI; Esther Coopersmith, Chair of the St. Petersburg International Center for Preservation; Vladimir Lapin, Director of the Russian State Archives; and Jane Slate Siena, Head of Institutional Relations for the GCI.

The center is incorporated in the United States and registered in Russia as a nonprofit charitable organization. As a founding partner of the center, the GCI is working with professionals in Russia to develop critical pilot programs in preventive conservation and is also leveraging its own contribution by attracting resources from other foundations and corporations.

Conservation needs throughout Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States are diverse and require new approaches to collections and building management. These include strategies that seek to prevent further deterioration of objects and that stabilize and protect entire collections and groups of historic buildings. Research and training are also needed in environmental standards and monitoring, exhibition installation, facilities development, collections management, emergency preparedness, and the safe handling and storage of artworks, archives, and library materials.

The center's programs began in March 1996 with Security Seminar I, designed to address the urgent problems of safety and protection of collections. Seminar leaders were Wilbur Faulk, Director of Security, the J. Paul Getty Trust; J. Andrew Wilson, Assistant Director of Fire Protection, the Smithsonian Institution; and Oleg Boev, Chief of Security, the Hermitage State Museum. Programs are also under way in environmental research, cultural heritage tourism, and preventive conservation, in collaboration with Russian and foreign partners, including the government of the Netherlands.