We work with institutions and individuals who have collections that are highly relevant to the art of puppetry in the Arab world. On this page we share some of the work we do to restore and preserve the items in these collections.
We start by working towards an inventory of the materials in each collection, identifying the items that are in a very serious state of disrepair.
As much as possible, we carry out initial restoration work in an attempt to prevent further degradation. Given the diversity of the materials we work with—wood, cloth, dyes, paper, film, and so on—thorough conservation of these materials would require a great deal of time, expertise and resources.
Among the most urgent materials we have found in the collections are video and audio recordings on magnetic tape (mostly VHS). These include recordings of puppetry performances, rehearsals, interviews, and other gems of the Arab puppetry heritage. Video on magnetic tape degrades rapidly, and since the machines used for playback are now obsolete, there are many challenges involved in digital preservation, and this problem will continue to get worse with the passage of time. As a result, we have placed a high priority on digitizing recordings on magnetic tape formats.
We have also worked to preserve large numbers of photographs and photographic negatives, and photographic slides that we have inventoried in the various collections. These materials also degrade over short periods of time, and we have placed a high priority on digitizing materials in these formats.
Among the materials we are most concerned with are the puppets crafted for use in puppetry performances. These are all unique, handmade objects, and are an artform in themselves. Given the diversity of the materials used in crafting puppets, they degrade in many different ways. We photograph them in as much detail as possible to create a digital archive of these puppets. Where possible, we carry out initial restoration work when we deem it urgent.