The Ministry of Culture and Sport has today published the technical document “Guidelines for the management, conservation and public enjoyment of cultural heritage in the de-escalation of the health crisis”. This guide, prepared by the Institute of Cultural Heritage of Spain (IPCE) with the approval of the Ministry of Health, offers detailed recommendations for the adequate conservation of cultural property and for its use in optimal conditions of safety and health.
The text, distributed to the autonomous communities and cultural institutions, aims to become a reference manual that addresses both the different cultural manifestations that make up the cultural heritage and its various titles, uses, types of management, size, responsible personnel, etc. . It joins the collection of specialized technical documents that the General Directorate of Fine Arts has published during the health crisis regarding archives, museums and historical heritage.
In addition to the general guidelines, the guide details other specific guidelines that affect the protection of movable and immovable property, celebrations and visits to places of worship, monuments, archaeological sites, caves and rock shelters, museum spaces, archives and libraries. and manifestations of intangible cultural heritage.
The guide advises, among other measures, to keep open doors that do not have an automatic drive, to avoid contact with handlebars; deactivation of tactile elements; take extreme care of air renewal; avoid fumigations and cloths with disinfecting solutions; change the use of heritage furniture with common access, such as tables, chairs or benches, for others with no heritage value that are resistant to washing; and the placement of disinfecting rugs at the entrances.
The prohibition is proposed to access those places of small size or that require passage through narrow two-way corridors, galleries or narrow stairways, such as towers, bell towers, roofs, triforiums, crypts, etc. These areas may also not be computed to establish the maximum capacity of visits. The text also asks managers to avoid passing through historical elements present on the ground, such as burials, slabs with inscriptions, etc., on which disinfectant solutions should never be applied.
Among the specific measures on religious spaces, the use of religious goldsmithing of a historical nature is discouraged and its replacement with modern liturgical objects that can be washed with neutral soap is proposed. The recommendation extends to textile elements (body holders, tablecloths and cloths), which would be replaced by modern pieces.
It is also requested to exercise extreme caution with rites and customs that do not guarantee the conditions of security, self-protection and social distancing, including those that require direct contact with the surface of cultural assets (kissing feet, hugging images, etc.) that could suppose a source of contagion. “The use in these cases of cloths moistened with disinfecting solutions is not an alternative, as it represents a serious danger for the conservation of cultural property,” the text clarifies.
Regarding the visit of the archaeological sites, it is advisable to establish a visit route duly marked and with a single direction, as well as to control the bottlenecks on walkways, assessing the visit time allowed in viewpoints and strategic points of the route that require a necessary stop for understanding the place.
It is recommended to eliminate from the visit spaces of reduced capacity or that do not meet safety requirements and the visit of groups not previously controlled to visitable spaces, but not museumized, is disapproved.
In the case of cave coats and caves, the sites will have to be provided with disposable leggings for each visitor, as well as a container for their disposal on departure. Due to the particular location of this type of cultural property, only preventive actions will be chosen, avoiding disinfection or fumigation. “The very nature of these spaces, as well as natural ultraviolet radiation, will have eliminated the viral load throughout the period of confinement.”
Regarding archaeological works, the guide recommends that the excavation space be divided into quadrants of at least two square meters and each person or team be assigned to each of them. In the case of excavations in confined spaces, such as caves and rock shelters, it is urged to maintain individual work, one person per quadrant, throughout the work chain (excavation, cleaning, screening and floating).
The text pays attention to the incidence of Covid-19 in the intangible cultural heritage and recalls the recent suppression of a large number of intangible cultural expressions such as Easter or the Fallas, as well as a multitude of patron saint festivals.
The guide considers, following the provisions of the National Plan for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, that the time frame is a basic feature of the development of intangible cultural manifestations and advises against changing the date: «The processes, techniques of most manifestations, rituals of celebrations, remembrances, etc., are governed by temporal rhythms that are usually linked, in the annual calendar with a cyclical structure, in a very direct and inseparable way with that specific season or date of celebration ». .