From July 8th to July 13th 2019 the Summer University Cultural Property Protection and the International Summer School ENVIMAT joined forces for a week full of lectures, a site trip through the Wachau Valley and a small live-exercise for the recovery of cultural heritage together with the local fire brigades.
The topic of the 2019 programme was “Climate Change and Cultural Landscapes – Preventive conservation of natural and cultural resources along the river Danube”. After two days of theoretical input on climate change and preparedness measures for cultural heritage, which were based on the state-of-the-art developments within the EU Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE project “ProteCHt2save”, a site visit took the participants through the Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site spanning the area between Krems and Melk along the Danube. The natural landscape with its vineyard terraces could be studied clearly from the ship on the Danube and a visit to the Benedictine Monastery of Melk topped of the site trip.
The final days of the programme were dedicated to hands-on emergency preparedness measures for cultural heritage in the Wachau, especially in Stein, since the final exercise was combined with a pilot testing in ProteCHt2save. The Austrian pilot site is the medieval city of Stein which today forms an integral part of the municipality of Krems. The main threat posed to Stein are floods from the Danube. Stein is well protected by a mobile flood barrier which is raised by the fire brigades when the need arises. During the pilot testing the flood barrier was not erected since the fire brigade is well honed in building up the barrier and cultural heritage institutions are not involved in that part of preparedness measures. For the pilot testing the newly opened State Gallery of Lower Austria was chosen. The State Gallery of Lower Austria houses the most important pieces of art from Schiele and Kokoschka to modern artists from Lower Austria. It stands in a zone that is likely to be threatened by severe Danube floods, should the mobile barrier either be damaged or not high enough during a future flood. Therefore the fire brigades tested a crash evacuation of the most important paintings on display. The preparedness measures were prepared in advance by the participants of the above mentioned joint summer schools, who also presented the system of route cards to the fire brigades and the museum staff.