Carleton students collaborate with Getty Conservation Institution in Peru

Carleton University students documented and carried on the condition assessment of the Kuño Tambo church wall paintings in Peru, dated back to the 17th century. (Provided Photo)

The original wall paintings of a church in Peru and a heritage building complex in Morocco – both dating back to the 17th century – have now been accurately documented and studied as a first step for their conservation, thanks to a group of students from Carleton’s Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism.

“This was a very special experience for us,” says Crystal Hanley, who worked with a group of three other students on the Peru project. “It was great to be a part of something that would make a difference.”

The students worked in collaboration with the Getty Conservation Institution (GCI), an operating program of the J. Paul Getty Trust, dedicated to advancing conservation practice through the creation and delivery of knowledge.

The students were divided into two teams to collaborate on each project, and worked under the direction of Mario Santana Quintero, an assistant professor of Architectural Conservation and Sustainability who has worked with the GCI in the past. Students also worked with Carleton’s consultants Chris Ouimet and John Gregg.

Sarah Ward, Ken Percy and Zeynep Ekim carried on the survey and developed architectural drawings for the Kasbah of Taourirt in Morocco. The heritage site is one of the most visited in the region.

“It was kind of like a large castle, with multiple areas around it,” Ward explains, adding that the project gave her invaluable hands-on experience. “We were applying what we learned in the classroom setting. Seeing how it came together to make a final product was great.”

Hanley, along with fellow students Jesslyn Granda and Ilana Hadad, worked on documenting and assessing the original wall paintings of a church in Peru.

Granda says she also gained hands-on experience through the project, but also witnessed first-hand the impact her work made on the residents.

“We realized the significance of our work, both for the project but also to these people,” she says. “You work so intimately with them and their church that still functions as a church. It’s part of their culture and heritage. We saw the significance of this project and what it meant to these people who were so kind to welcome us into their home and village.”

Ouimet, who assisted the team in Morocco and Peru, adds that the students also learned how quickly plans can change.

“You go in with this idea and the way you do it ends up being totally different,” he says, adding that the students had to create some new plans while on the ground.

Santana Quintero was thrilled with the students’ enthusiasm towards the projects and the educational experience they received outside the classroom.

He feels that the projects also helped students see that there are careers in conservation when they graduate.

“I can see that we have contributed to their professional growth, and it feels nice that we have convinced them that there’s a future in heritage conservation,” Santana Quintero says. “There are some in architecture and engineering that prefer to work on new buildings, rather than existing buildings. But I think through this experience, students gained a little more.”

For more information on the Getty Conservation Institute, visit:

This entry was written by Kristy Strauss and posted in the issue. Bookmark the permalink or share the following short URL for this article via social media:

Kristy Strauss

By Kristy Strauss

Kristy Strauss graduated from Carleton's journalism program in 2009. She is a regular contributor to Carleton Now. She has worked as a reporter for the Kemptville Advance. She currently reports for EMC Ottawa South.

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