A major step toward the preserving India’s rich cultural heritage has been taken with the launch this week of a unique training programme organised by The Courtauld and taught by international specialists at the Leon Levy Foundation Centre for Conservation Studies at Nagaur . This vibrant new Centre is located in the historic royal Fort at Nagaur in Rajasthan, famous for its 18th-century pleasure palaces and exquisite wall paintings (see Courtauld News for further information).

Under the direction of the Mehrangarh Museum Trust and His Highness Maharaja Gaj Singh II of Jodhpur, since the 1990s the Fort has been the subject of major conservation initiatives, including award-winning conservation of the site for which it was also short-listed for the Aga Khan award. In 2005, conservation of the wall paintings was begun by the Courtauld Institute, and continues with the generous support of the Leon Levy Foundation in New York.

Building on this legacy, the three partners are now developing Nagaur as a centre for conservation excellence in India. In the Centre’s superb new facilities - including a conference room, and laboratories for materials analysis, microscopy and digital imaging - specialist courses cover aspects of conservation essential to the safeguarding of the cultural heritage.

Whereas conservation training has traditionally focused on reactive and often short-term treatment measures, the new training at Nagaur aims instead to provide students with an understanding of issues fundamental to the successful long-term preservation of works of art. These include the nature of original and conservation materials and methods, condition assessment and recording, and environmental investigations and monitoring.

Already drawing students from across south Asia, the Leon Levy Centre for Conservation will make an enormous contribution to conservation not only in India but throughout the region. Benefiting from the personal interest and support of H.H. Gaj Singh II, and of the two founding trustees of the Leon Levy Foundation–Shelby White and Elizabeth Moynihan–the Centre builds on The Courtauld’s outstanding record of conservation and teaching in Asia, the Middle East and Europe.