Over its three days, MEPPI heard from speakers from such collections and institutes as the Akkasah Center for Photography at New York University Abu Dhabi, the Qatar Digital Library, the currently closed Marrakech Museum for Photography and Visual Arts, Turkey's SALT, Egypt's Contemporary Image Collective and Jordan's Department of Antiquities.
Funding for the conservation of photo archives is a major challenge for the sector and will continue to be on the minds of alumni as they move forward without the formal MEPPI program.
Debra Hess Norris from the University of Delaware, one of the driving forces behind MEPPI, provided myriad practical insights into successful fundraising and grant strategies, while Heba Hage Felder from the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture outlined programs and opportunities available through the Beirut-based AFAC.
I very much hope we can continue with it in one form or another," said MEPPI veteran Kaoukab Chebaro, associate librarian for archives and special collections at AUB.
Kaoukab Chebaro, associate university librarian for archives and special collections at the American University of Beirut, participated in two MEPPI workshops.
The initiative] gave us community, community support, confidence and a sense that we can do it, all together, in spite of it all," she said, outlining the myriad practical challenges and responsibilities around the region's photo collections, adding how MEPPI had sought to create "leaders who could take the torch and march towards awareness-raising, advocacy and real nitty-gritty work.
The selection of MEPPI participants was a careful process," Kathleen Dardes, head of collections at the Getty Conservation Institute, told The Daily Star.
MEPPI contacted the directors of these institutions.
We also wanted to make sure that their directors understood that taking part in MEPPI was an ongoing institutional commitment but also something that could support the institution's mission.
Several MEPPI workshop alumni addressed the symposium about the practice of photo conservation in extremely difficult circumstances.
Nahid al-Jumaili, archives head at Iraq's National Library and Archives, told the symposium about the steps in photo preservation MEPPI training had inspired and about the realities of disaster planning, mitigation and response.