Eight World Monuments Fund watchlist sites get $1m in grants from American Express

The Art Newspaper | Ivy Olesen

The World Monuments Fund (WMF) received $1 million dollars from American Express to conserve eight of the 25 threatened cultural heritage sites on their watchlist. The awards range from $25,000 to $225,000 and many will be used to respond to damage inflicted by climate change. “The conservation world in general has traditionally been very reactive and now the field is trying to get in front of some of these issues”, says WMF’s vice president and COO Lisa Ackerman. One example is Blackpool Piers, a historic working class seaside holiday spot (like New York’s Coney Island), that has been facing rising sea levels and storm surges. The $25,000 it is receiving will help the local agency and city council bolster their existing outreach and advocacy efforts to foster “broader public discussions about what the fate of sites like this is”, Ackerman adds, as “more and more places are challenged by climate change and coastal sea rise”. This is causing a shift in how conservation is thought of and dealt with, including the increased involvement of scientists.

Another site, the Monte Albán archaeological ruins in Oaxaca, Mexico, famous for its hieroglyphic inscriptions of the ancient Zapotec civilisation, requires emergency structural shoring following a severe earthquake in September 2017. The grant money will focus not only on fixing the physical repair, but also aid Mexican authorities to prepare for future earthquakes using geotechnical mapping to locate potential vulnerable points in the site’s structures. “Where the field is traditionally about more straightforward conservation challenges, now there is more emphasis at looking at root causes,” Ackerman says. “The sites we have chosen to fund are symbols of national and local identity,” says Tim McClimon, the president of the American Express Foundation. “We hope their revitalisation will attract greater numbers of visitors to these areas and ensure their survival for future generations.”…read more

Image: Blackpool Piers