Burned Books and Blasted Shrines: Cultural Heritage Under Fire in Kosovo, is on display at the Fine Arts Library now through June 30. The exhibition features photographs and other materials documenting the destruction of the cultural heritage of Kosovo in the 1998-99 conflict. Many of the photographs, by András Riedlmayer, Bibliographer for Islamic Art and Architecture in the Fine Arts Library, and Andrew Herscher, architect and Ph.D. candidate at the Design School, were brought back from an October 1999 survey of Kosovo's historical architecture and cultural institutionsthe Kosovo Cultural Heritage Survey.
A grant from the Packard Humanities Institute, administered by Harvards Center for Middle Eastern Studies, enabled Mr. Riedlmayer, Mr, Herscher, and Mr. Genc Samimi, conservation expert from Albania, to conduct the survey. The grant covered the preparatory research and the three-week field study in Kosovo last October (three months after the end of the war). The group brought back a trove of documentation including more than 2,000 photographs and slidesboth those they took and others they acquired from third parties. A small selection of this documentation is featured in the exhibition. All of the photographs of the Kosovo Cultural Heritage Survey now reside as a special collection in the Fine Arts Library. A subset of these images is being digitized, to be included in the Kosovo Cultural Heritage Surveys database and in the ArchNet Web site. The projects entire archive of documentation will also be made available for research as a special collection in the Fine Arts Library.
Harvard College Librarys own collections provided Mr. Riedlmayer and Mr. Herscher with the materials they needed for their research. Information on Kosovos cultural heritage in hard-to-find publications from the former Yugoslavia and other Balkan countries was readily available at the Fine Arts, Widener, and Tozzer libraries. This information was consolidated into a database designed and assembled by volunteer Donna Viscuglia, a member of the HD PUSH project team in Widener Library. The database was of vital importance in locating the burned-out mosques and other historic landmarks destroyed in Kosovo.
Shown here are photographs taken by Mr. Riedlmayer and Mr. Herscher as well as photographs acquired for the Survey from third parties in Kosovo on display in the exhibition.