Shangri La conservator Kent Severson tirelessly works on conserving the Islamic museum’s collection and architecture. And he also works further afield—helping with the recovery of destroyed historic sites and structures such as Nimrud in Iraq. (Pictured above is Severson working on a hammam bath clog that you can now see in Shangri La’s Moroccan Gallery.)
On Tuesday, Jan. 30, noon to 1pm, he gives a free lunchtime talk about his work here and with the Iraqi Institute for Conservation and Antiquities and Heritage, in the Hawai‘i State Art Museum’s first-floor multipurpose room. Bring your lunch—you can eat while you expand your mind.
In 2008, a grant from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad established the Iraqi Institute for Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage (IICAH) in Erbil. Since then, teams of international specialists have provided conservation and preservation training to participants from Iraq’s State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, provincial antiquities departments and university faculty and staff. The destruction of historic sites by ISIS since 2014 has shifted the program’s focus to heritage recovery. Severson will report on his participation in IICAH training, before and after ISIS’s effect on the area, including recent work in training a team to recover sculpture fragments from the ancient site of Nimrud.
Here in Hawai‘i, Severson is responsible for overseeing the care and preservation of Shangri La’s collection of Islamic art. He is a graduate of the NYU conservation training program and was formerly in private practice in Boston, Massachusetts. He has participated in archaeological excavations in Turkey, Greece, Italy and Egypt. In 2010, 2011, and 2016-2017 he was a visiting instructor for the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage in Erbil, Iraq. Severson is a fellow of the American Institute for Conservation.