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Experiences of the World Monuments Fund in Balancing Interpretation with Preservation

Experiences of the World Monuments Fund in Balancing Interpretation with Preservation

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09/27/2010

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Experiences of the World Monuments Fund in Balancing Interpretationwith Preservation
8
th
US/ICOMOS International Symposium
Introduction 
 
WMF Overview 
The World Monuments Fund (WMF) is a private, not-for-profit, international organization devotedto on-site conservation of monuments and sites world wide.
 
Established in 1965, WMF bringstogether public and private support to implement comprehensive preservation efforts, all of whichare conducted in collaboration with local individuals and organizations.
 
At the present time WMF is working with over 250 archaeological and architectural conservationfield projects in over 80 countries by means of advocacy, technical and financial assistance. Inthe course of this work, WMF has become increasingly aware of the importance of effective sitepresentation, and its role in assisting with the conservation goals of endangered sites and theirlong-term sustainability.From its headquarters in New York, and working with affiliates and offices in France, Italy,Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom, as well as with partners around the world, WMF bringstogether public and private support to implement a comprehensive conservation effort thatincludes project planning, field surveys, fieldwork, on-site training in the building crafts, advocacy,and the development of long-term strategies for the protection of monuments and sites.WMF’s main program, the World Monuments Watch® 
List of 100 Most Endangered Sites 
wascreated in 1995 with an aim towards raising awareness for endangered cultural heritage sites allover the world and seeking international economic cooperation in preserving them by means ofpublishing every two years the Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites. The sites are chosenby an international committee of specialists based on the criteria of relevance, urgency andviability. Conservation projects within the sites are carried out with the patronage of AmericanExpress, the "Robert W. Wilson Challenge to Conserve our Heritage" program, and partnershipswith civil society and state and local governments in various countries.
Approach 
The most traditional approach to saving cultural patrimony is by restoring its physical fabric alone,and is not what is currently practiced at WMF. Instead, we believe that the way to conservemonuments in a sustainable manner is by conserving their larger context -- the surroundinglandscape, townscape, vernacular architecture, and living culture -- and by including the localcommunities in the preservation of those monuments that were, in many cases, created by theirancestors. An isolated, although technically correct, conservation intervention is not enough topreserve a site, or to guarantee that a donor’s investment will make a substantial difference. Soone of WMF’s responsibilities towards its donors is to guarantee that their donations will serve ascatalysts for a virtual cycle of interventions aimed at the long-term preservation of a particularsite.Our primary expertise is in the conservation of cultural heritage. However, during the fourdecades of WMF’s involvement in the field, our projects have evolved to include aspects outsidetraditional scopes of work, such as nature conservation and community participation, through theestablishment of partnerships and collaboration with experts in those fields. We have learnedfrom experience that to save a portal, we must save the entire church, and to save a building, wemust save the entire town. This global approach can only be implemented with the participationand continuous support of the communities that have a stake in the site. An internationalorganization alone cannot provide enough permanent economic support to a site. But through
 
Experiences of the World Monuments Fund in Balancing Interpretation with Preservation
Paper submitted by Norma Barbacci, World Monuments Fund
 
95 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016 -nbarbacci@wmf.org– Tel: 646-424-9594 – Fax: 646-424-9593
US/ICOMOS 8
th
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.
South America 
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.
Case Studies 
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
fiscal 
was assigned to a lay person from the community to act as a surrogate priest. Therole of
patrón 
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
 
Experiences of the World Monuments Fund in Balancing Interpretation with Preservation
Paper submitted by Norma Barbacci, World Monuments Fund
 
95 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016 -nbarbacci@wmf.org– Tel: 646-424-9594 – Fax: 646-424-9593
US/ICOMOS 8
th
International Symposium Charleston, South Carolina, 5-8 May, 2005 3
 
of wooden religious architecture is the symmetrical tower-façade and arched entrance. Thesewooden churches are extraordinary examples of the fusion between European styles ofarchitecture and local craftsmanship, and their iconography symbolizes a true
mestizo 
culturedeveloped from aboriginal and Jesuit ideals. Of the 150 churches built, only sixty correspondingto the Chiloe school typology remain. Sixteen of them were designated World Heritage sites byUNESCO in the year 2000. However, this selection is only a representative sampling of thechurches and not a reflection of comparative significance.In 1996 the churches of Chiloe were listed in the “World Monuments Watch list of the 100 MostEndangered Sites” program, nominated by the Friends of the Churches of Chiloe foundation, wholisted exposure to the environment, fires, insect damage and earthquakes, as their main threats.In March 2002, a major storm hit the archipelago, seriously damaging nine of the World Heritagechurches. This disaster prompted the government of Chile to negotiate a multimillion dollar loanfrom the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) to support a community-based sustainabletourism development project for the provinces of Chiloe and Palena. The goal of this four-yearprogram was to improve tourism infrastructure, services, sanitation and environmental protectionin these provinces to increase the average stay and expenditure of tourists, thus raising incomesof the local residents. Among the projects included was the restoration of the sixteen churchesregistered on UNESCO's World Heritage List.The program is being carried out by theSub-Secretary of Regional andAdministrative Development of theMinistry of Interior (SUBDERE), theRegional Government, and the Bishopof Ancud through the Friends of theChurches of Chiloe. The University ofChile provides the technical expertisefor the restoration projects through their“Chiloe Workshop,” established in 1976to research the churches and trainarchitecture and historic preservationstudents in practical field work.In 2003 WMF was invited by IADB to participate in the project, and through the “Wilson ChallengeProgram to Preserve Our Heritage” donated matching funds to the Friends of the Churches ofChiloe to implement several projects that complemented the government’s plan for the region.These projects included the restoration of three of the nine World Heritage churches affected bythe 2002 storm: Tenaún, Vilupulli, and San Juan; and the rehabilitation of the Convent of theImmaculate Conception, a XIX century religious complex in Ancud.The Immaculate Conception Convent is not a World Heritage site, but it is a significant historiccomplex which, with a relatively minor intervention, was restored to support certain activities thatwere considered essential to secure the long-term conservation of the Chiloe Churches as awhole: a carpentry school, materials bank, documentation center, and “identity” center. Thepurpose of this program was to train the local community in the traditional crafts required toproperly restore and maintain their churches; and in the history and architecture of the churches,to be able to offer guides and interpretation services to visitors. The program provides materialsfor restoration and specialized training for carpenters, while the communities reciprocate byproviding labor.As a result, several churches are currently being restored by trained volunteers following theancient tradition of the
minga,
or community work. Incorporating the local communities in therehabilitation of the churches not only reduces the costs of restoration and provides a substantial

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