The initial aim of the Regional Restoration Camps has been to bring together young professionals from the Western Balkans and provide them with hands-on instruction on applying traditional materials and techniques to restoration/conservation projects. Mutual respect for cultural heritage is crucial for peace-building in any society. Therefore, utilizing cultural heritage as a tool for promoting reconciliation by encouraging mutual respect, understanding and trust in and between people is deeply rooted in the Regional Restoration Camps.
The 1st Regional Restoration Camp was held in 2007 in the historic centre of Gjirokastra, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since then, CHwB has implemented forty seven Regional Restoration Camps. The development of these Camps has been encouraged and joined over the years by several educational institutions, and the Camps are now being accredited as a part of obligatory studies at the University of Tirana’s Faculty of History and Philology.
Over the past fifteen years, the Regional Restoration Camps have grown and diversified in their educational approach. For this reason, CHwB has divided the Camps into thematic areas, each of which gives participants different skills and experiences for heritage preservation:
Architectural conservation has served as the core of the Camps since 2007. Lectures in each location cover similar topics, including conservation materials and methods, site documentation, value analysis and heritage interpretation. However, the practical works at each Camp differ slightly and the atmosphere of each place is unique in its own special way.
Conservation of museum artefacts started with a long partnership with the UK-based organization Heritage without Borders. Today, talented international conservators come to share their immense knowledge with the participants. This Camp covers such topics as preventive conservation, principles and methods of documentation, bringing museum objects to life through interpretation, and more.
Interpretation is a fast-growing specialization within the museum and heritage fields that helps museum curators and site managers better communicate the value of heritage to their visitors. Lectures and activities cover such topics as the principles and theory of interpretation, universal design, identifying target audiences, understanding and working with multiple voices and difficult histories, engaging with the community, digital interpretation, team dynamics and more.
Many historical bazaars are facing the need to improve conditions for local artisans, while at the same time broadening the range of traditional products that appeal to contemporary visitors and thus expanding the market. Together with the artisans, participants learn about these challenges and how to address them using a growth mind set, entrepreneurial thinking and ‘out-of-the-box’ attitude to business.
Due to their success in Albania, the Regional Restoration camps were expanded both in location and content. As of today, the Camps have taken place in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia, as well as Albania and Greece.
In 2014, the CHwB Regional Restoration Camps were awarded the prestigious EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award, recognizing their professionalism and successful implementation in the category of Education, Training and Awareness-Raising.