On Oct. 5, the World Monuments Fund (WMF) announced its 2012 list of 67 cultural-heritage sites in need of assistance.
Since 1996, a bicentennial list has been compiled in hopes of highlighting sites in need of preservation.
The World Monuments Watch is a call to action on behalf of endangered cultural-heritage sites across the globe. And while these sites are historic, they are also very much of the present-integral parts of the lives of the people who come into contact with them every day, WMF President Bonnie Burnham said in press release.
WMF received 266 nominations of potential watch sites for the 2012 list by governments, NGOs, and other organizations. Those nominations were then reviewed by experts to create the final list of 67 sites on the World Monuments Watch list.
Monuments are placed on the list for many different reasons. Several are added after natural disasters strike. This year, three Japanese sites are on the watch list after the earthquake and tsunami in March of 2011. Not only did the disaster claim the lives of over 15,000 people, but it washed away centuries of irreplaceable heritage.
Others sites on the list are simply prone to neglect or lack of restoration funds.
The sites vary greatly in many aspects from age to popularity. The age of sites range from the fourth millennium B.C. (Jordan's Abila archaeological site) to early 2000's (Mind's Eye Painting on Grand Caymon). There are both popular tourist sites (Charleston, South Carolina) and those unknown to the common tourist (Cour Royale de Tiébélé, Burkina Faso).
Not only does the WMF draw international attention to the watch list, it also allocates $2.7 million to the sites. They also received $26.9 million from other organizations and donors.
This attention provides a vital tool for local entities to leverage funding from a variety of sources, including national, regional, and municipal governments; foundations; corporate sponsors; international aid organizations; and private donors, said Erica Avrami, Research and Education Director of WMF.
Avrami encourages everyday citizens to support cultural sites -- either those in your backyard or those oceans away. Those interested can learn more about the cultural sites or join the WMF community site to share photos and comments on preservation efforts.
Increased awareness from the watch list brought protective legislature to both the historic center of Buenos Aires and Panama cemeteries, each part of the 2010 list. In the United States, the Miami Marine Stadium and the Atlanta-Fulton Library are now seeking alternative uses, after threat of demolition.
WMF has received a generous gift of $5 million by American Express, which will help yet to be announced projects with the 2012 Watch list sites. American Express has donated $12 million since the creation of WMF in 1996, which has helped in over 120 different projects.
A strong focus of these projects, though, will be on involving local communities in conservation efforts so that local constituencies and not just international groups are aware of the treasures in their midst, said Ben Haley, Communications Manager at WMF.
Here's a look at an example from each of the regions identified by WMF:
1. United States: Manitoga, Garrison, NY
Russel Wright's home, Manitoga, was the opposite of his often mass-produced home furnishing. His home is completely unique, sitting at the edge of a quarry with large glass walls that bring nature inside. Although the home is in the process of restoration by the non-profit Manitoga, Inc., there is still a large amount of work to be done, due to water damage and over-run landscaping.
2. Sub-Saharan Africa: Cour Royale at Tiébélé, Burkino Faso
Once the residence of the chief of Tiébélé, the Cour Royale continues to play a central role in the lives of the Kassena people, an ethnic group in Burkina Faso, a small West African country. The circular structure and decorative wall painting on the Cour Royale illustrate the traditional architecture of a group that settled in Burkina Faso in the 15th century. Presently, the site is at risk of flooding and erosion, although community members perform regular maintenance.
3. Oceania: Canterbury Provincial Government Buildings, Christchurch, New Zealand
Canterbury Provincial Government Buildings were built in the mid-1800s by British settlers to recreate governmental buildings in London. Due to earthquakes in Sept. of 2010 and Feb. 2011, the complex has been closed and the High Victorian Stone Chamber is now in rubble. WMF hopes that the building will be repaired and reconstructed to encourage other rehabilitation projects in the area.
4. Europe: Berrocal de Trujillo, Spain
The town of Trujillo, Spain, which dates back to the 11th century, is in the midst of losing its landscape to meet energy needs. Most would grieve for the town if a large nuclear power plant was placed in their front yard. Yet, surprisingly a solar farm is the center of controversy. WMF hopes that there can be a compromise in the battle between alternative energy sources and preservation
5. Asia: Denchu Hirakushi House and Atelier, Tokyo, Japan
The damage to the Denchu Hirakushi House and Atelier in Tokyo was a result of neglect, rather than the recent earthquake-tsunami of 2011. Artist Denchu Hirakushi (1872-1979) was a modern sculpture working to preserve the Japanese woodcarving tradition. Hirakushi gave the house to the Denchu Art Museum, yet it has remained empty since the 1990's.
6. Latin America and the Caribbean: Mind's Eye, George Town, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Mind's Eye on Grand Cayman is one of the most modern sites on the watch list. Gladwyn K. Bush (1914-2003), or better known as Miss Lassie, was an important artist on the Cayman islands inspired by her Christian faith and Caymanian culture. Her house served as one of her largest canvases and is now at risk due to new developments in the area. The house was purchased by government in 2008 and has just opened in April of 2011 for visitors, but has a long way to go in preservation.
7. North Africa and the Middle East: Tell Umm el-'Amr (Saint Hilarion Monastery), Nuseirat, Gaza Strip
One of the largest monasteries and important cultural sites is caught between the constant political battles on the Gaza Strip. The extensive monastery is home to five churches, bath houses, and elaborate mosaics. The site was abandoned after an earthquake in the 7th century and uncovered by archaeologists in 1999. With peace in the area the monastery could provide both education and tourism opportunities.