WMF Announces More than $10 Million in New Projects
Initiatives Span Remote Archaeological Sites of Peru’s Chachapoyas Civilization, the UK’s Iconic Palm House at Kew Gardens, Ongoing Support for Ukraine Heritage, and Smaller-Scale Interventions Around the World
Projects Prioritize the Protection of Heritage in Conflict, Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation, and the Promotion of a More Inclusive Vision of Heritage Preservation
New York, NY – February 16, 2023 – World Monuments Fund (WMF) today announced a commitment from funders of more than US$10 million toward safeguarding treasured places around the globe in urgent need of intervention. Ranging from winterization efforts at Ukrainian heritage sites damaged by conflict to documenting oral histories with survivors of one of Australia’s past Aboriginal child ‘training institutions', the new suite of projects launching in 2023 build on WMF’s commitment to working in partnership with communities to address the greatest threats and challenges to heritage today—namely, conflict, climate change, and underrepresentation.
In addition to targeted interventions in these areas, WMF is growing its portfolio of Signature Projects, representing long-term engagements that employ innovative preservation strategies with transformational impact. Initiatives include a groundbreaking effort to preserve the largely unprotected Chachapoyas archaeological sites within Peru’s Río Abiseo National Park, the conservation of mid-century murals by Afro-Portuguese artist José de Almada Negreiros, and the development of green strategies for the iconic Palm House at the UNESCO-listed Kew Gardens in the UK.
“Whether in the face of climate change, war, or discrimination, people around the world are standing up for the places that give meaning to their lives and provide economic opportunities,” said Bénédicte de Montlaur, President and CEO of World Monuments Fund. “Our 2023 projects provide communities with the tools they need to sustain what is most important to them while responding and adapting to the challenges of our time.”
WMF is growing its portfolio of Signature Projects, representing the organization’s most ambitious and long-term conservation efforts across the globe. These engagements address critical needs at a heritage place and facilitate far-ranging local participation, professional skills development, and innovative solutions that can serve as models for future projects.
More information on WMF Signature Projects commencing in 2023 follows below:
Río Abiseo - Peru
Comprising an area of roughly 274,520 hectares of forest dotted with impressive sites and an extensive network of paved paths created by the Chachapoyas civilization, the remote Río Abiseo National Park has been largely undisturbed by the outside world. The park was designated a Protected Natural Area in 1983, and in 1990, UNESCO declared it a mixed World Heritage site, highlighting the notable integration of natural and cultural heritage intrinsic to Chachapoyas territory. A relative lack of intervention has allowed the park’s archaeological sites to preserve a remarkable degree of authenticity but has also left them in a fragile state, particularly as vegetation growth and the harsh climate threaten to destabilize the structures. Rising to the unique challenges of studying and preserving the site, WMF is embarking on a multi-year initiative to stabilize its most at-risk structures, contribute new knowledge of the Chachapoyas cultural landscape, and develop key management strategies for this rich yet understudied heritage.
The Palm House, Kew Gardens - UK
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in South West London, is recognized as the world’s leading botanic institution, with a mission to understand and protect plants and fungi for the well-being of people and the future of all life on earth. A centerpiece among Kew’s constellation of historic buildings is the 1848 Palm House, one of the world’s greatest garden structures. The Palm House is celebrated for its beauty and innovative use of materials and construction, as well as for the rich sensory experience it provides 2.2 million visitors annually. In the first endeavor of its kind, WMF is partnering on a project to both restore the Palm House and drastically decrease its carbon footprint by the year 2030 through the application of innovative solutions that can be replicated at glasshouses and other historic structures around the globe. This initial phase of work is generously funded by Hélène Marie and Jake Shafran, the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust, James and Clare Kirkman, and Nora McNeely Hurley and Manitou Fund.
Maritime Stations, Lisbon - Portugal
Since 1945, artist José de Almada Negreiros’s murals adorning the Alcântara and Rocha do Conde d’Óbidos Maritime Stations have welcomed seafaring visitors at the port of Lisbon. Commissioned by the authoritarian Estado Novo regime to paint Portugal’s achievements, Almada Negreiros boldly rebuked the reigning political establishment by instead depicting themes of emigration, African identity, and working-class communities whose lives centered around the port. Almada Negreiros's depictions of Black female dockworkers is notable for the direct, confident manner with which his subjects return the viewer’s gaze. In these images, Portugal is imagined as a point of departure for those seeking a better life elsewhere, a subtle reversal of the typical colonial messaging of the time. Following its inclusion on the 2022 World Monuments Watch, the masterpieces of Portuguese modernism will be restored with support from the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust, members of the Friends of Heritage Preservation, and Gregory Annenberg Weingarten, GroW @ Annenberg, providing an additional catalyst for the revitalization of Lisbon’s port and renewing appreciation for Negreiros’s socially driven practice.
Signature Project Expansions
WMF is also entering a new phase of work at Signature Project sites that build on ongoing preservation efforts. They include:
- The conservation of the western half of Phnom Bakheng, a site constructed between the ninth and tenth centuries that served as the state temple of the first Khmer capital in the Angkor region. Since 2004, WMF has worked in collaboration with the national antiquity authority to develop and implement a conservation master plan, leading to transformational improvements, including the restoration of the central temple’s eastern half. This new phase of work at Phnom Bakheng is supported by an anonymous donor and the Estate of Margo Leavin.
- The conservation and inclusive management of sites within Bears Ears National Monument, the sacred lands of several tribes containing thousands of ancient cliff dwellings, gathering places, and rock imagery. WMF is supporting efforts led by the Indigenous community to improve management and enhance the visitor experience with lessons about respectful visitation and the significance of this rich living landscape. This work is supported by Butler Conservation, Inc.
- Containing some of the few structures remaining from the prosperous Bagratid period, the archaeological zone of Ani, Turkey was included on WMF’s inaugural Watch in 1996 and again in 1998, 2000, and 2002 in light of its extraordinarily significant place in world history. Following decades of work documenting and stabilizing of two of the archaeological zone’s iconic buildings, Ani Cathedral and the Church of the Holy Redeemer, 2023 will see the completion of masonry intervention and restoration work at the latter church. In 2021, WMF began its second phase of work at Ani Cathedral, a remarkable site in the center of a former conflict-affected zone, with the support of ALIPH.
In addition to adding to its roster of Signature Projects, WMF is commencing a series of targeted interventions that provide local partners with expertise and financial support to meet specific needs at heritage places. Whether focused studies, physical interventions or preventive measures, these projects lend momentum to advancing WMF’s global priorities of crisis response, climate adaptation, balanced tourism, and inclusive heritage.
Since the invasion of Ukraine, WMF’s Ukraine Heritage Response Fund has supported local professionals and provided supplies necessary to protect Ukrainian heritage places, constantly monitoring the situation and lending a hand where needed. As winter approached at the end of last year, WMF worked to support the winterization of several historic structures in the regions of Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy directly impacted by the conflict. Largely exposed to the elements due to the destruction produced by the war, in their current state, these buildings risked further degradation and even partial collapse without preventive measures to protect, stabilize, and waterproof them. For this project, WMF partnered with Cultural Emergency Response (CER), with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. WMF’s work in Ukraine is made possible by the Ukraine Heritage Response Fund with leadership support from the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation. WMF is also grateful to the Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine Kaye Foundation for supporting our winterization efforts in Ukraine.
Sumba Island - Indonesia
The island of Sumba is dotted with small settlements that preserve a distinctly Sumbanese tradition of constructing wooden houses with remarkably tall and steep thatched roofs. For residents to sustain this way of living, they must contend with the immediate and increasing threat of fires, a result of longer dry spells driven by climate change. This threat was illustrated in dramatic fashion in September 2022, when a fire in Wainyapu consumed 80% of the village’s historic houses. Responding to this challenge, WMF is introducing fire prevention measures, equipping the community with best practices for protecting their iconic structures.
Yanacancha-Huaquis Cultural Landscape - Miraflores District, Peru
Vestiges of some of Peru’s earliest settlements remain in the houses, irrigation canals, corrals, dams, terraces, and platforms of the Yauyos and Huarochirí provinces. This cultural landscape is a strong symbol of identity for the people of Miraflores and an outstanding example of the extensive water management systems developed by their ancestors. To rehabilitate this ancient technology and address issues of climate change-driven water scarcity in the region, WMF is working with the community to revive traditional water management practices and support local agencies in regional decision-making. This work is supported by American Express.
Hitis (Water Fountains) of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal
Dating back to the sixth century CE, the hiti system has been a fixture of Newari heritage throughout the Kathmandu Valley. Typically carved in the form of Hindu and Buddhist mythical creatures, these ornate public fountains represent a vital water supply whose maintenance is even more critical as water shortages diminish access to clean water. Exploring the historic infrastructure’s potential to address a contemporary crisis, WMF is undertaking an in-depth physical and hydrological assessment of the hiti system and conducting demonstration projects that will contribute to future conservation efforts. This project is supported by the Watch Committee of World Monuments Fund and American Express.
Teotihuacan - San Juan Teotihuacan, Mexico
For nearly a millennium until its decline in the sixth century, Teotihuacan flourished as one of the first urban societies in the Americas. Today, it is one of Mexico’s most popular sites, welcoming more than four million visitors annually. Despite the economic opportunity this tourism presents, local residents have largely been cut out from experiencing its benefits, a dynamic exacerbated by the pandemic and the rapid development of adjacent land. Providing a platform for greater local participation, WMF is facilitating local community involvement in tourism planning across the region to ensure a variety of stakeholders benefit from visitation. This work is supported by American Express.
Abydos - Egypt
With a history extending back 7,500 years, Abydos was the cult center for the god Osiris, the lord of the underworld, and was believed to be a physical gateway to the afterlife. Its funerary monuments give tremendous insight into the history of state formation, linguistic development, and architecture in Ancient Egypt, yet it remains an obscure tourist destination whose important archaeological treasures have been neglected. To prevent further decline, WMF is conducting targeted conservation work of key structures and developing a site management plan to guide future preservation. WMF’s work at this site is supported by The Selz Foundation.
Kinchela Aboriginal Boys Training Home - Kempsey, Australia
From 1924 to 1970, the Kinchela Aboriginal Boys Training Home is where an estimated 600 Aboriginal children who had been forcibly removed from their families were interred with the aim of assimilating them into white society. Shuttered in the 1970s, the remaining buildings and landscape serve as evidence of a painful past that continues to affect the lives of generations of survivors and descendants still living in Australia. Following the site’s inclusion on the 2022 World Monuments Watch, WMF is working with survivors to reimagine Kinchela Boys Home as a place of truth-telling and healing. Through capturing oral histories and helping document and interpret what remains of this troubled landscape, WMF aims to support survivors in telling their stories of strength and resilience so they may pave the way for justice. This work is supported by American Express.
La Maison du Peuple - Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
When Maison du Peuple was inaugurated in 1965, Africa was entering a new era of colonial independence with the establishment of new populist governments. This time of hope, optimism, and renewal was reflected in civic architecture symbolizing democratic ideals. Despite its significance as an example of this emerging architectural language, Maison du Peuple has suffered from long-deferred maintenance and conservation due to the lack of local conservation expertise and the knowledge vacuum created with the passing of an older generation. Providing a long-term framework for the site’s preservation, WMF is working with local partners to provide training in conserving concrete, carrying out research to share the site’s multilayered history, and preparing a condition assessment to guide future interventions.
About World Monuments Fund
World Monuments Fund (WMF) is the leading independent organization devoted to safeguarding the world’s most treasured places to enrich people’s lives and build mutual understanding across cultures and communities. The organization is headquartered in New York City with offices and affiliates in Cambodia, India, Peru, Portugal, Spain, and the UK. Since 1965, our global team of experts has preserved the world's diverse cultural heritage using the highest international standards at more than 700 sites in 112 countries. Partnering with local communities, funders, and governments, WMF draws on heritage to address some of today’s most pressing challenges: climate change, underrepresentation, imbalanced tourism, and post-crisis recovery. With a commitment to the people who bring places to life, WMF embraces the potential of the past to create a more resilient and inclusive society.
Judith Walker, Vice President of Communications