Training ‘First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis’ starts in Amsterdam

March 30 marks the start of the fourth edition of the international training course First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis. This year the course takes place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Twenty-two heritage professionals from all over the world will learn the necessary knowledge and skills that will enable them to save and protect heritage before, during and after a crisis situation. The recent wanton destruction of heritage in the Middle East, but also natural disasters such as in the Philippines, underline the relevance and urgency of this training.

Practical skills

World leading experts will teach the students – from countries like Afghanistan, Mali, Ukraine and Syria – on heritage protection and relief. In more than seventy modules the participants will learn to take preventive measures, analyse risks, and recover or restore cultural heritage. They are taught in the evacuation of valuable and fragile objects, and how to organise a crisis coordination team. In addition, they are encouraged to put in place such “heritage rescue teams” in their own countries. The training is highly practical, which will give the participants the skills to save and protect heritage under very difficult and complex circumstances.

The hands-on training is focused on teaching practical skills.

The First Aid Course is set up in accordance with the principle of “train the trainer”. Therefore participants are also selected on the ‘local impact’ they represent. They will share their knowledge in their own country with local organizations, volunteers and other stakeholders. The aim is to spread the knowledge and skills they acquire among as many people as possible.


The training is the result of a collaboration between the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), the Smithsonian Institution and the Netherlands National Commission for UNESCO.  To enable the course in the Netherlands, the organisers are working closely together with a large number of local partners, particularly in Amsterdam. The Reinwardt Academy (AHK), the Tropenmuseum and the National Museum of World Cultures house much of the classes and exercises. Also, the input from Dutch teachers and curators is of important value. In addition, excursions and practicals will take place throughout the Netherlands, for instance in the Peace Palace Libray in The Hague, and inside the Fort Markenbinnen where a major disaster exercise will take place. The LDE Centre for Global Heritage and Development helped with the contents of the e-learning environment. 

Financial support

The Dutch ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the Prince Claus Fund, the City of Amsterdam and DutchCulture provide financial support for up to fourteen participants. The Prince Claus Fund has also indicated its willingness to finance some projects of participants. In 2016, the training will take place in Washington.