On 17 June 2008, the World Heritage Centre requested the State Party to provide a report on the current state of conservation of the property, including detailed information concerning inappropriate demolition and reconstruction works within this property.
On 19 November 2008, the State Party provided a letter and report on the state of conservation of the property, including information of the 2nd meeting of the Advisory Commission of Belarus and Poland on Historical and Cultural Heritage at Nesvizh in October 2008. This group of experts inspected the work in progress, and decided that all future activities would be carried out under their supervision.
The State Party in its letter also indicated that the Republic of Belarus was fully committed to the World Heritage Convention, and expressed the State Party’s willingness and intention to undertake all necessary measures to co-operate closely with the World Heritage Centre to ensure the protection and conservation of that heritage.
The report informs that, since its construction in 1582, the Nesvizh Castle complex underwent numerous reconstructions, modernisations and restorations until the end of the 19th century. In consequence it reflected and incorporated different architectural styles from Renaissance, Baroque, and Classicism to Modern.
It further points out the main goal of the current restoration project was to explore, study and preserve all authentic elements of the complex. The report indicates that since reconstruction work started in 2002 specialists have supervised all phases of the research, and been involved in the preparation of the project documentation. It also states that a high percentage of the costs have been spent on materials and technologies created for the conservation of ancient buildings by leading European manufacturers. It is stressed that these have been sympathetic to the authentic elements of the Castle, the Arsenal, Entrance gates and adjacent buildings. An exception to this approach occurs with the rebuilt 18th century Eastern Gallery. Critical for the functioning of the complex through the provision of a connecting passage between Castle and Tower, the Gallery had been unstable due to insufficient foundations. The walls were temporarily reinforced in 2001 followed by an unsuccessful attempt at stabilisation. In 2006 following in-depth hydro geological research which revealed that the structure was founded on filled ground, the decision was taken to dismantle and rebuild the Gallery. In doing so, it is claimed that the Gallery was accurately measured and carefully recorded to allow a full reconstruction using the original material and traditional building technologies in the rebuild. Work is currently in progress.
It is stressed that during the restoration works, every effort is being made to save the characteristic features of each building, to reconstruct some missing elements on the basis of documentary evidence - and to preserve the building interiors if there is insufficient evidence for reconstruction. In doing so, it is not envisaged that any major change or the addition of new elements to the original design will occur.
It is also recognised that the World Heritage Centre was not kept adequately informed regarding the actual condition of the Gallery and the need for such urgent action to dismantle it, which was unplanned for, and considered an emergency.
The longer term aim of the project is the adaptation of the Nesvizh Complex as an Estate Museum which will be used for cultural and educational activities, and as a visitor attraction.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that:
a) given the reports’ stated approach that work is soundly based on scientific analysis and research, it is of concern that the Eastern Gallery stabilisation work in 2001 was based on a lack of scientific knowledge regarding its foundational state;
b) web-based photographs of what remains of the Gallery appear to reveal a significant mound of demolition material lying on the ground, with little apparent evidence of the structure being carefully dismantled brick-by-brick and set aside to enable a careful rebuild;
c) despite the claimed expertise of the various official bodies involved, and the composition of the expert group, it is clear that there is a mixture of understanding between what is intended by conservation, restoration and reconstruction in the adopted approach to the project;
d) an expressed faith in proprietary materials and technologies compounds this problem;
e) it is not clear to what extent the basic understanding of traditional technologies, and their relevance for the property, is fully understood and adopted.