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Saving World Monuments and Heritage Sites

October 20, 2014

Since 1965, the World Monuments Fund has been the leading independent organization dedicated to saving the world's most treasured places. It does this through a combination of advocacy, education and training, capacity building and disaster recovery in more than 90 countries.

American Express has been a major supporter of the World Monuments Fund since 1995 when we helped WMF create the World Monuments Watch, a biennial listing of the most endangered cultural sites around the world. Watch listing provides an opportunity for historic sites and their nominators to raise public awareness, foster local participation, advance innovation and collaboration, and demonstrate effective solutions toward saving these endangered places.

"The longstanding support of American Express to the World Monuments Watch has resulted in preservation work at 140 sites in over 60 countries," said WMF President Bonnie Burnham recently. "The sites on the 2014 Watch that will receive support are extraordinary places whose preservation will benefit both local populations and visitors from around the world."

Historic sites that are receiving funding from American Express this year include:

Pokfulam Village, Hong Kong (SAR), China. A small village perched on a hillside in the west of Hong Kong Island, Pokfulam is characterized by narrow lanes and alleys twisting around small traditional buildings and newer structures. American Express funding will support the restoration of a 19th century stone house that will serve as a model conservation project and become a visitor and community history center.

Churches of Saint Merri and Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, Paris, France. Built in the first half of the 16th century and the middle of the 19th century respectively, these churches will be supported to produce much-needed diagnostic structural reports and restoration work on 19th century paintings in both churches.
Church of Saint Merri

The Church of Saint Merri

The Farnese Aviaries, Rome, Italy. The 16th century aviaries and gardens were created on top of rich archaeological remains, and although the gardens were restored, the aviaries have remained untouched. American Express funding will support a comprehensive conservation treatment of the entire structure with the intent of opening it to the public at the conclusion of the work.

Tenyuji Temple, Ogatsu, Japan. This 18th century temple is of major historic and religious importance to a community that was decimated by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Our funding will support the restoration of the main hall of the building, which collapsed in the disaster.
Tenyuji Temple

Tenyuji Temple

Fundidora Park, Monterrey, Mexico. Fundidora Park is an industrial archaeology museum and public park in the heart of Monterrey, which was originally built as a steel foundry in 1900. Our funding will help support an awareness-raising campaign designed to create a sustainable level of support to maintain the park and its surroundings.

The Guell Pavilions, Barcelona, Spain. The Guell Pavilions in Barcelona's Pedralbes neighborhood, were built between 1883 and 1887, inspired by the myth of the Garden of the Hesperides. Our support will help restore the buildings and gardens, now owned by the University of Barcelona, and make them more accessible to the public.

The House of Wonders, Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania. Once the most modern building in East Africa, the 1883 building has been in poor condition and part of one of the balconies collapsed in 2012 threatening the building's overall structure integrity. Our funding will support a survey and report on the structural integrity of the building, which is now used for exhibitions relating to Swahili culture.
House of Wonders

The House of Wonders

Battersea Power Station, London, United Kingdom. This art deco power station defines the Thames just west of the Houses of Parliament in London. No longer used as a power station, the building's exterior and smokestacks have been preserved. American Express support will support awareness-raising public programs.
House of Wonders

Battersea Power Station

Sulgrave Manor, Sulgrave, United Kingdom. Located in a small village in Northamptonshire, Sulgrave Manor is a 16th century house built by a direct ancestor of George Washington. Our support will help with thatching historic buildings on the property, which will make them more accessible to the public.

This week marks the beginning of the World Monuments Fund 50th Anniversary celebration. American Express and Tiffany & Co. are delighted to be the major sponsors of the year's festivities, which will include a commemorative book, a touring exhibition, gala benefits, Watch Day events in several countries and major restoration projects.

If you have a comment or question, please follow me on Twitter at @timmcclimon and let's start a conversation there.

Next week: Celebrating Arts & Culture with the Smithsonian Institution


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