When most of a culture’s relics are artworks, writings and other delicate things, the loss of those items are a huge concern. This is especially true for older cultures whose relics were made in times when durable materials were hard to come by, or even nonexistent. Fortunately, modern technology makes it possible to protect very delicate surfaces and items from further degradation and even restore them to a state that is much like new.
One of the biggest concerns is the preservation of religious artwork. Some of this art actually used paint made from highly biodegradable materials like eggs. Needless to say, restoring it is a painstaking task. Once it is restored, care must be taken to ensure that it doesn’t get damaged again because it may not be able to survive another restoration process.
In some cases, cultural preservation needs require that the actual icon be stored away in a climate-controlled vault. When this happens, modern technology ensures that the storage doesn’t deprive people of the experience of seeing the work. High-resolution photography allows detailed pictures to be taken so visitors can experience its full glory without subjecting the actual piece to the harmful effects of sunlight, moisture, perspiration or direct contact.
When preserving things like instruments, vestments, original sheet music and other items of that nature, the use of replicas is a great help. People can hold and even play a replica of an instrument from a copy of the music to hear sounds that might not have been heard for over a thousand years. Replicas of ancient vestments and other materials can be shown out in the open for an up-close look. Things like this can give museum visitors a fully immersive feel for what it was like to be a part of history.
Sometimes, cultural preservation goes much further than keeping old relics intact. The Chickasaw Nation’s Dallas Cultural Center, for example, has a replica of an entire village that visitors can walk through. It also includes recreations of traditional religious ceremonies, dances and culture-specific musical performances using traditional instruments. It’s a great example of a full-scale cultural preservation project.
The same types of exhibits and performances can be used to keep any ancient religious tradition from fading into the unknown. For example, it used to be common for towns to be centered on a cathedral or mosque. A full-immersion museum could recreate such a town to allow visitors to feel what it was really like to live there. Of course, this type of museum isn’t limited to the religious aspect. It should show how all of everyday life was in the depicted time period.
When it isn’t possible to recreate an entire experience, vivid photographs, music and movies can bring things to life. With a dynamic exhibit, visitors can interact with what’s going on to get as much of a feel for the culture as is possible without actually being part of it. This is a great way to ensure that more people will not only remain interested in the culture, but in its preservation.