In 2011, WMF launched CRAFT (Conservation Resources for Architectural Interiors, Furniture, and Training), an educational program designed to meet critical conservation needs in China. The program sprung from the conservation project that WMF began with the Palace Museum in 2000, working on the Qianlong Garden in Beijing’s Forbidden City. While WMF’s educational methodology is implemented at numerous sites around the world, CRAFT has become our hallmark for demonstrating the long-term benefits of pairing conservation work with education and training.
CRAFT is the first, formal conservation-training program in China that has been designed to meet international standards. The program has sought to introduce Western scientific approaches to conservation, and to combine that knowledge with the long history of craftsmanship that characterizes China’s best works of art, furniture, and architecture. In 2013, based on the success of CRAFT and the burgeoning need for this kind of training in China, Tsinghua University added a two-year master’s level degree program in conservation and became a third, key partner in CRAFT.
Using Palace Museum-WMF Qianlong Garden Conservation Project as a laboratory
The two-year CRAFT curriculum brings international faculty, with expertise in all aspects of furniture and historic interior conservation, to Beijing to work with the students. Our project at Qianlong Garden, one of the true jewels of the Forbidden City, is to restore the entire two-acre site, which includes 27 buildings in four courtyards. The project itself has been running for nearly two decades, and the fundamental purpose of CRAFT has been to use the Palace Museum-WMF Qianlong Garden Conservation Project as a laboratory for students to learn the conservation practices that will be needed to protect this treasured site, as well as other sites in the country.
As the country’s economy rapidly expands and China embraces tourism—both domestic and international—this program is contributing by producing the country’s first professionally-trained conservators, ready to serve a nation that is rich in cultural resources. CRAFT is also impacting educational approaches to conservation across the country, and WMF has most recently been asked by our Chinese partners to develop additional modules for professional conservators to expose them to this radically new approach to conservation.