IVLP Impact Awards Perspectives: Cultural Heritage Part I


Dr. Otabek Aripdjanov is an alumnus of the International Visitor Leadership Program and a 2023 recipient of the IVLP Impact Awards for his project The Protection and Preservation of Archaeological Collections. Meridian International Center, in partnership with the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, implements the IVLP Impact Awards Initiative. IVLP Impact Awardees from across the world administer community impact projects that build on their experiences and promote innovative solutions to shared challenges. The IVLP Impact Awards Initiative aims to engage alumni, strengthen global networks, and support lasting community impact.

Building bridges through museums

I am an Archaeologist and Senior Researcher at the Institute of Art Studies, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and my journey in archaeology spans over 18 years. I focus on ancient Bactria-Tokharistan, an area that encompasses Southern Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Northern Afghanistan. My fascination lies in the intricate world of Bactrian artifacts, particularly bone, ivory, and antler objects, which have provided invaluable insights into the past.

I served as Deputy Director of the State Museum of History of Uzbekistan, where I spearheaded numerous projects and international exhibitions fostering cultural exchange and collaboration with museums worldwide. Uzbekistan boasts a rich ancient history, vividly expressed through its archaeological and architectural wonders, as well as its museums. It is home to an impressive 8,210 cultural heritage sites, comprising 4,748 archaeological monuments, 2,252 architectural marvels, 678 monumental art installations, and 532 cultural attractions. However, many of these archaeological sites are constructed using fragile mud bricks, and safeguarding these delicate structures against the test of time remains paramount. Furthermore, the conservation of artifacts stored within museum facilities and their presentation in exhibitions presents its own set of challenges.

In early 2023, I embarked on an illuminating journey through IVLP, on the exchange Collaboration on Cultural Heritage Preservation. Over eleven days, our group of seven professionals from museums and cultural heritage agencies explored Washington DC, New York, and Chicago.

Engaging the power of collaboration and the keys to safeguarding our shared past for future generations

My visit to the Smithsonian Institution provided profound insights into museum collections and preservation, including at the National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of Natural History. Engaging discussions with Dr. F. Chase, Director of the National Museum of Asian Art, revealed potential areas of collaboration, particularly in preserving collections during seismic events. A lecture on emergency cultural heritage preservation by the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative highlighted the importance of safeguarding artifacts in challenging situations, an issue of utmost relevance to Tashkent, located in a seismic zone. These visits nurtured the idea of organizing workshops and lectures in Uzbekistan, focused on preserving collections in seismic regions and leveraging our collaboration with the Smithsonian.

Balancing the need for preservation with the desire to educate and inspire through public display requires innovative solutions

Archaeological collections serve as time capsules, preserving our heritage for future generations. Their protection and preservation require meticulous care, addressing environmental factors, controlling access, and employing conservation techniques. My IVLP Impact Award project, The Protection and Preservation of Archaeological Collections, explores the role of museums in safeguarding collections. By analyzing preservation strategies such as protective equipment, climate control, and digitization, we seek to ensure the long-term survival of these invaluable artifacts. Furthermore, we tackle the challenge of effectively displaying archaeological objects in museums. This project strives to increase knowledge and awareness of preservation strategies among students and museum professionals, enabling them to apply best practices in their respective roles.

This project exemplifies the potential for international collaboration in cultural heritage preservation. By sharing experiences gained through IVLP and partnerships with institutions from Uzbekistan and the U.S., I aim to inspire others to engage in collaborative efforts, bolstering the preservation of cultural heritage globally.

The Protection and Preservation of Archaeological Collections project is a testament to the power of collaboration and knowledge exchange. It underscores the importance of preserving our shared cultural heritage, both in Uzbekistan and around the world. Our commitment to this cause remains resolute, and we look forward to continuing our work, building bridges through museums, and ensuring that the treasures of the past remain accessible to future generations. Together, we can create a more inclusive and equitable world through the preservation of our cultural heritage.



Dr. Otabek Aripdjanov was a participant on the IVLP Project Collaboration on Cultural Heritage Preservation, organized by the U.S. Department of State and Meridian International Center. Learn more about his IVLP Impact Award project, The Protection and Preservation of Archaeological Collections on our website.