Expert suggests ‘spirit’ may be as important as authenticity in architectural restoration

Speaking at a recent lecture at the Sharjah Archaeological Museum, Dr. Nicholas Stanley-Price-strategic advisor to the Sharjah Museums Department-cited Nara Palace in Japan as an example of restoration based on ‘spirit', rather than strict historical accuracy.

Speaking at a recent lecture at the Sharjah Archaeological Museum, Dr. Nicholas Stanley-Price-strategic advisor to the Sharjah Museums Department-cited Nara Palace in Japan as an example of restoration based on ‘spirit', rather than strict historical accuracy.

Stanley-Price announced that capturing the spirit of a site may be a more valid method of restoring archaeological architecture than maintaining its historical accuracy.

According to Stanley-Price, "Restoration is one of the most controversial aspects of conservation," but acknowledged that the process has value in boosting tourism, national pride, and education.

Quoting from the UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage signed in 1972, Dr. Stanley-Price warned the majority of charters determining the restoration of historic architecture tended to be discouraging, with an insistence that any restoration had to be based entirely on historical documentation and evidence.

He suggested that there was a cultural difference between Asian attitudes to restoration and those in other parts of the world, declaring that Asian restorations focused more on ‘spirit'.

However, Stanley-Price conceded that attitudes are changing, stating that Korean popular opinion on the restoration of the destroyed Namdaemun in Seoul differs from 30 years ago.

"Popular opinion now is that it can be reconstructed, but that it wouldn't be the same," said Dr. Stanley-Price.

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