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Conservation of the Frescos and Southern Porch at Gelati Monastery

Tuesday, June 11
The urgent conservation works implemented on the 14th century frescoes of Southern Porch and 15th-16th century frescoes in the St. Marine Chapel at the Church of the Virgin in Gelati Monastery have been accomplished.

The project was implemented by Georgian Arts and Culture Center with the financial support of US Ambassadorís Fund for Cultural Preservation.

The wall paintings of the main Church of the Virgin in Gelati Monastery are unique as they display the entire history and most important stages of the Georgian ecclesiastic mural paintings. Among them are frescoes in the Southern porch and that of St. Marine Chapel, which date back to the different periods. The wall painting preserved in the Southern porch date back to the 1360-1395 and is attributed to the later developed period of the Palaeologan style. The 15th-16th century frescos of St. Marine Chapel are executed in the ďfolk styleĒ peculiar for the Late Medieval wall paintings in Georgia.

The urgent preventive conservation works were implemented in the framework of the project funded by US Ambassadorís Fund for Cultural Preservation. The works included cleaning of the wall painting surface; Consolidation of the paint layers and detached plaster; injection of the cracks on plaster with lime solution; replacement of previous gypsum, cement fillings with lime/sand fillings and extraction of soluble salts.

Conservation of the frescos was preceded by the urgent rehabilitation works of the architecture, which included installation of the temporary roofing in the St. Marine Chapel, replacing cement floor with lime, glazing of the window opening.

Georgian Arts and Culture Center is the Non-Governmental Organization acting in the field of Cultural Heritage Preservation for almost 15 years. During these years GACC implements international projects supported by donor organizations, amongst these: World Monuments Fund, Prince Cause Fund, Getty Foundation etc. In 2006 GACC has been awarded with Europa Nostra 2006 medal for Cultural Preservation, for the Conservation of Timotesubani Church of the Virgin.

Nominated by Georgian Arts and Culture Center, in 2008 Gelati monastery was included in World Monument Watch list of 100 most endangered monuments.

The particular project is GACCís second project funded by US Ambassadorís fund for Cultural Preservation and implemented in Gelati Monastery. In 2004 US Ambassadorís fund for Cultural Preservation supported the diagnostic studies and determination of conservation needs in the narthex and chapel of Gelati Church of the Virgin.

Visiting Kutaisi about a month ago, US Ambassador to Georgia Richard Norland stoped at the Gelati Monastery to view the progress of the conservation at the Church of the Virgin. The U.S. AFCP has supported thirteen projects since 2001 in Georgia, totaling $343,208. AFCP-supported projects include the restoration of ancient and historic buildings, assessment and conservation of rare manuscripts and museum collections, preservation and protection of important archaeological sites, and the documentation of vanishing traditional craft techniques and indigenous languages. Cultural heritage endures as a reminder of the contributions and historical experiences of humanity.