Experiences of the World Monuments Fund in Balancing Interpretation with Preservation
Paper submitted by Norma Barbacci, World Monuments Fund
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International Symposium – Charleston, South Carolina, 5-8 May, 2005 2
proper planning and interpretation it can promote public awareness and encourage a sense ofownership among the people and institutions that are most likely to support its conservation andmaintenance for future generations.
The cultural heritage of South America is extremely richand varied, and our selection of projects reflects thisreality. We are currently working on pre-Inca sites such asthe Huaca de la Luna in Peru; Spanish colonialarchitecture such as the Chiloe churches in Chile; theJesuit missions in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay; andWorld Heritage sites such as the ceremonial village ofOrongo in Easter Island, Chile. Although much of thispatrimony is being properly cared for, there are still manysites that need to be conserved, researched andinterpreted so they can become economic generatorsthrough controlled tourism for the benefit of local communities and the world. Some of theobstacles we find in the execution of these goals are:
Lack of economic resources
Political and economic instability
Identity crisis and globalization
Demographic pressureThe next four case studies selected from WMF’s recent work in South America represent differenttypes of sites and conservation problems. However, the applied solutions share an emphasis onpublic communication and education in heritage preservation. With this presentation we hope toillustrate situations where an appropriate understanding and expression of heritage values canpromote site conservation, community development, and public awareness.
The Chiloe Churches, Chile
The archipelago of Chiloe in southern Chile was firstinhabited by Huilliches and Chonos Indians. In the mid-16th century, the region was colonized by the first Spanishsettlers, who occupied a region considered to be a “warfrontier” due to the aggressive character of the local ethnicgroups. The first missionaries to evangelize the localpopulation were the Mercedarians, and between 1608 and1767 the Jesuits organized a system of itinerant missionsthat traveled once a year for eight months, building newchapels in different locations. These remote communities,in many cases accessible only by sea, did not count withthe permanent presence of a priest to serve the spiritual needs of the growing community, so therole of
was assigned to a lay person from the community to act as a surrogate priest. Therole of
was assigned to the person in charge of the care of the church and cemetery. Boththe fiscal and the patrón were selected by priests from the local community with the permission ofthe Spanish governor, and their function still exists, albeit in an updated version, after 300 years.These chapels were constructed by local craftsmen using the techniques used by shipbuilders,who built them entirely of wood, since it was the most abundant building material in the region,including fasteners and other building elements usually made of metal,. The churches wereplaced near the coast to guide sailors, and most of them were protected by northern mountains,with a south-facing entrance sheltered from the rain. The main characteristic of the Chiloe school