Cultural Heritage Digest – Week of 5/10/20

Links to interesting cultural heritage-related news and articles from the past week.

+ Submit your photos to Docomomo US’s “I Spy Modernism” Architectural Photography Competition. Submissions due Wednesday July 1, 2020.

+ Check out the Living Heritage Initiative featuring stories about San Antonio’s festivals, traditions, myths and folklore, practices, knowledge, skills, and the people behind them.

+ Explore Villa Tugendhat virtually. The modern villa was designed by the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and built in 1929–1930. It is the only example of modern architecture in the Czech Republic inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites.

+ The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art (ICAA) launched a new series of virtual guided tours of architectural and design projects. This first one features Ardrossan, the historic estate on the Philadelphia Main Line.

+ UNESCO and ICOM are assessing the impacts of coronavirus on museums. The study will focus on strategies for museums to utilize virtual tools and digitizing their materials. It also found that there is inequality with Africa and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which only makes up 1.5% of museums worldwide and has limited resources for digitalization tools.

+ How Historic Preservation Shaped the Early United States.

+ The European Commission published guidelines and recommendations on how to safely resume travel and reboot Europe’s tourism.

+ On China’s Cultural and Natural Heritage Day (June 13th), they will launch an online shopping festival to promote intangible cultural heritage (ICH) products. It’s a unique idea to promote traditional crafts and products in the face of COVID-19 restrictions.

+ NYC Landmarks Releases Enhanced Online Landmarks Map.

Main image: A craftsman is showing how to make a sandy pottery through livestreaming in a remote village in southwest China’s Guizhou Province, April 30, 2020. /VCG

Cultural Heritage Digest – Week of 5/3/20

Links to interesting cultural heritage-related news and articles from the past week.

+ In memoriam: Dr. Guy Suzon Ramangason, former Director General of Madagascar National Parks

+ Copenhagen will be named UNESCO World Capital of Architecture 2023. The focus will be on the role of architecture in sustainable planning and promoting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

+ Interesting National Geographic article about the effects of COVID-19 on the tourism industry and local communities in Costa Rica. This pandemic has highlighted the need for a more diversified economy, as tourism, as we see now, is not always dependable. However, a small silver lining are the ways and new developments the locals are initiating to help each other and sell local products.

+ The Ecotourism Society of India (ESOI) is renamed as Responsible Tourism Society of India (RTSOI). The team has a wonderful list of objectives for promoting and educating sustainable and responsible tourism practices within the tourism industry.

+ What future travel might look like post-COVID-19.

+ World Monuments Fund is hosting a free (but welcoming donations) webinar to discuss the role heritage sites in the COVID-19 recovery process. The webinar will be on Tuesday, May 19 at 12 pm EDT.

+ Analysis of how the ROCK cities have been affected by and responded to the coronavirus crisis. Hint: Increase in digital technologies to promote and educate about culture has been invaluable.

+ Signs of post-COVID-19 life are starting to emerge. In Cyprus, restoration work will resume at 10 cultural heritage sites. The work will follow safety restrictions.

+ Europe Day’s Manifesto on how cultural heritage can act as a powerful catalyst for the future of Europe.

+ The National Trust for Historic Preservation urges Congress to support historic preservation efforts during coronavirus crisis. They believe that by supporting cultural heritage, cultural heritage can acts as a, “catalyze the economic recovery of nonprofit organizations, small businesses, and the arts and culture sector, while also protecting historic and cultural resources”.

Cultural Heritage Digest – Week of 4/26/20

Links to interesting cultural heritage-related news and articles I have read in the past week.

+ Today is African World Heritage Day. Click here to learn more about World Heritage sites in Africa, how they’re coping with the COVID-19 crisis, and view webinars from heritage and environmental experts in Africa.

+ Ukraine ratified the Second Protocol to the Hague Convention of 1954 to fight Russia’s destruction of cultural heritage in occupied Crimea.

+ Highlight on the UNESCO World Heritage city of Safranbolu, Turkey. Known for its well-preserved vernacular architecture and home of the saffron flower.

+ Now is the perfect time for heritage management professionals to plan for and institute sustainable tourism practices for post-Covid-19 tourism.

+ Paths of Culture is an interesting project by the Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage in Greece. They are protecting the abandoned historic paths and landscapes, which were historically used to move people and goods.

+ Summary of recent heritage protection projects by UNESCO utilizing the Fund for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

+ US/ICOMOS’s call for assistance in digital technology. They are looking for representatives and advocates for specific World Heritage Sites in the U.S that have video content and/or people that know about video production. If you fall into one of these categories, please reach out to US/ICOMOS.

+ 8 Top World Heritage Sites You Can Explore in Street View.

+ Interesting digital technology for understanding how future development could impact World Heritage Sites. MS Environmental (MSE) provides verified photomontages, or computer generated images, which are designed to show developments in their real world context. 

+ How Previous Epidemics Impacted Home Design

+ Roundup of London’s brutalist architecture

Cultural Heritage Digest – Week of 4/20/20

Links to interesting cultural heritage-related news and articles I have read in the past week.

+ Call for posters or videos to promote the he value of cultural heritage and in supporting its public recognition. Abstracts due May 20th.

+ UNESCO and ICCROM initiate a capacity building program for the reconstruction of Mosul’s cultural heritage. The program will train local professionals and craftspeople of various disciplines.

+ I’ve been enjoying reading these one-slide lectures on

+ Have cocktails with a curator (virtually) at the Frick.

+ The Faro Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society opts for an enhanced definition of heritage that focuses community driven values and approaches. Read their new brochure.

+ You’ve probably already have seen these photos posted on social media, but the Getty is asking people to engage in art by recreating artworks with items they have at home.

+ Interesting history of a removed and well-traveled cast iron facade that is finally restorated again in SoHo.

+ NYC Landmarks Commission is now utilizing Zoom and YouTube video channels for its public hearings in the face of Covid-19. NYC Landmarks is also celebrating its 55 year anniversary.

+ Will the sustainable travel movement survive coronavirus?

+ More virtual World Heritage Sites to explore.

+ The impact of Covid-19 at World Heritage Sites in India. We can’t forget the chain of effects and the amount of people involved in the tourism industry surrounding heritage sites.

+ My first time hearing about the Rock in Europe, which focuses on “the development of a shared multi-cultural, multi-heritage and multi-stakeholders city vision, which integrates heritage-led regeneration, sustainable economic development, city promotion,and knowledge sharing.” Learn more.

+ The Dolomites are under threat of climate change. This battle of tourism at heritage sites seen at many other sites. New management tatics and sustainable practices will need to be put in place in order to balance the preservation of the environmental, tangible and intangible heritage with the needs of economy that increased tourism brings to the surrounding community.

+ How the Travel Industry Is Becoming More Eco-Friendly.

Cultural Heritage Digest – Week of 4/12/20

Links to interesting cultural heritage-related news and articles I have read in the past week.

+ Today (April 18th) is World Heritage Day. Consider donating to ICOMOS or World Monuments Fund to help protect our heritage.

+ National Trust for Historic Preservation, released a report finding that approximately 7.5 million small businesses are in danger of closing over the next five months if they do not quickly receive financial relief.

+ April 18- 26 is National Park Week. Explore the parks virtually.

+ ‘The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring,’ by Vincent van Gogh was stolen from the Singer Laren museum, located outside of Amsterdam, taking advantage of an empty cultural institution during the Covid-19 crisis.

+ Check out these virtual tours of UNESCO World Heritage Sites here and here. Also, here’s how UNESCO World Heritage is addressing the Covid-19 crisis.

+ Sad news about a fire in one of Haiti’s oldest churches. The Haitian people and their heritage have suffered so much in the last decade, also suffering previously from earthquakes.

+ The archaeological Al-Qobaa fortress in Hajjah Governorate, northwest of Yemen has been bombed by Houthi militia. Yemen’s Ministry of Culture is asking international cultural agencies, like ICOMOS and UNESCO, to condemn these actions against culture.

+ Now more than ever, we have time to appreciate art and our environments.

+ Tourism is the sector that has been hit the hardest by COVID-19. The World Tourism Organization is calling innovators and entrepreneurs to put forward new solutions to help the tourism sector recover from COVID-19. Apply by April 22.

Main image: Main Street America

Cultural Heritage Digest – Week of 4/5/20

In a new series, I will be posting links to interesting cultural heritage-related news I have read in the past week (forgive me, some of these may be a couple weeks old). Links to the articles are below:

+ In moments of crisis, people need culture.

+ Will people still be afraid of large crowds after social distancing measures have been lifted?

+ Educational resources from National Trust for Historic Preservation to experience and learn about historic sites virtually as well as tips to support local businesses while we are social-distancing during the Coronavirus pandemic.

+ Preservationist, Virginia Savage McAlester, author of A Field Guide to American Houses, passed away last Thursday. Read about her life and work here.

+ The Financial constraints of US/ICOMOS (United States Chapter of the International Council of Monuments and Sites) during the time of Coronavirus due to dips in the economy and the canceling of fundraising events. If you can, I urge you to join as a member or donate to support US/ICOMOS and their mission to protect our heritage.

+ UNESCO wrote an open letter to respond to the construction project at the Archaeological Site of Nahr El-Kalb in Lebanon, which may negatively impact on the site and its World Heritage inscription. The site is currently on the Tentative List for the UNESCO World Heritage List.

+ Turkey has applied for the registration of four elements (including calligraphy and the tea culture) on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

+ Tartu, Estonia has enrolled in the international Green Destinations program for sustainable tourism.

+ Difficulties in performing construction work during Covid-19.

+ NYC historic building owners: if your building needs repairs, here’s how to apply for a low interest loan from Landmarks Conservancy, which will provide technical and financial assistance to owners of historic buildings.

+ The Preservation League of New York State awarded grants to restore and reuse the following sites: Historic Saranac Lake, the Adirondack Experience museum and the Whallonsburg Grange Hall.

+ UNESCO calls member states and memory institutions to document the Covid-19 outbreak.

+ With limited tourism from Coronavirus, the sea life is coming back to Venice’s typically crowded and polluted waters. For many years, Venice has been experiencing a number of issues due to sea level rise as well as the negative social, physical, and environmental impacts of mass tourism, specifically the cruise ships.

Main image: Seaweed can be seen in clear waters in Venice as a result of the stoppage of motorboat traffic. Photograph: Andrea Pattaro/AFP via Getty Images

Tribute to Virginia Savage McAlester

I learned over the weekend about the death of Virginia Savage McAlester, the well-known preservationist and author of A Field Guide to American Houses.

I have a copy of her book on my shelf, and have found it very useful over the years (Purchase a copy here). In fact, I just referenced it a couple weeks ago to prove to my friend that her Massachusetts home was indisputably a Queen Anne Style, using the diagrams in Ms. Aclester’s book as evidence in my case.

Below is a beautiful tribute to Virginia Savage McAlester, that I picked up from the AIA’s 2017 Honorary Membership Recipient.

“A historian, preservationist, and, perhaps most notably, an author, Virginia Savage McAlester has literally written the book about identifying and understanding America’s residential architecture.

The daughter of one of Dallas’ most progressive mayors, Wallace Savage, and early preservationist Dorothy Savage, McAlester has been a champion of the built environment for 50 years. In the early 1970s, she helped found the Historic Preservation League—now Preservation Dallas—an organization that actively advocates for the city’s historic structures. Since its founding it has helped designate more than 4,000 local landmarks.

McAlester’s efforts to save Munger Place, a 1905 Arts & Crafts neighborhood in East Dallas, led to the establishment of the Historic Dallas Fund, backed by Fannie Mae, to fuel the rehabilitation of inner-city homes. The model would later be applied to residential preservation projects across the country. Later McAlester formed Friends of Fair Park, which successfully lobbied to protect Fair Park, a National Historic Landmark that boasts the world’s largest collection of Art Deco architecture, sculpture, and murals.

Beyond her accomplishments in preserving many of Dallas’ most important buildings, McAlester is likely best-known as the author of A Field Guide to American Houses: The Definitive Guide to Identifying and Understanding America’s Domestic Architecture. Originally published in 1984, and updated in 2013, the volume covers more than 50 American residential styles, from 17th-century settlement homes to what she calls the “millennium mansions” of today. Lauded by architects and preservationists since its first publication, the 880-page tome has been well-received by the public, with pop culture magazine Entertainment Weekly giving the 2013 edition an A review. Her other publications, such as Great American Houses and Their Architectural Styles and Great American Suburbs, further demonstrate her passion for exploring the variety of architecture in our communities.

McAlester has built a distinguished career by celebrating the achievements of architects, and her endeavors to educate the public about the importance and diversity of America’s architecture is nothing short of remarkable.”

Read more about McAlester in this 2013 New York Times piece. Additionally, here is a link to her obituary in the Dallas Times.

Thank you, Virginia, for your work and contribution to the preservation field.

Supporting Cultural Heritage During the COVID-19 Crisis


Support Cultural Heritage

As everyone is aware, the world is experiencing changes in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. Restaurants, stores, and non-essential businesses are closing including cultural sites and institutions. Employees are loosing jobs and/or hours, and small businesses are suffering. Tourism is suffering along with the communities that rely on tourism and tourism-related activities. Below are several resources for you to consider supporting to limit the risk to our cultural heritage at this time.

Because this is a site devoted to cultural heritage, the below list is not comprehensive of all the ways one can assist during this hectic time. Furthermore, there are certainly more ways not listed here to support more immediate and pressing needs in your community (for example volunteering or donating to services that provide food to the elderly who cannot leave their homes, such as Meals on Wheels or giving blood).

In addition, when purchasing food, supplies, and recreational items online during your social isolation period, please consider supporting local businesses in your community that are offering delivery or pick-up orders instead of purchasing from chain stores. Another option is to purchase gift cards now from your local stores and restaurants to use at a later date to offer support when funds are limited for these establishments.


Small cultural institutions such as historic houses, galleries, local museums, and theaters have closed to avoid further spreading of the virus. Without visitor fees to support historic movable and/or immovable cultural heritage as well as the employees who oversee and maintain the heritage, pieces of our heritage may be at risk.

Please visit the websites for the cultural institutions in your community and provide a donation, if possible.

Additionally, national and global institutions are also in need of support at this time. These groups raise funds to support the preservation, conservation, safeguarding, and maintenance of heritage sites around the world, as well as the communities nearby the heritage sites. Please also consider donations and/or memberships to these groups that rely heavy on tourism and donations to support the work and the local communities.

Support the Tourism Industry

As mentioned above, tourism is suffering from the repercussions of the virus due to the required social isolation, canceled flights, and closure of cultural instantiation and heritage sites. Some estimate that the travel industry could suffer a loss of 25% in 2020 as a result. Places that depend heavily on tourism, such as cities in Mexico and Venice, are reporting significant losses and projections for further loss.

In light of the crisis and affect on the tourism industry, please consider postponing your planned trips instead of cancelling.

Experience Virtually

While supporting cultural institutions is critical at this time, it is also a perfect time to explore the cultural resources available to you digitally. Many institutions offer virtual tours, online galleries, and digital archives to provide people around the world the opportunity to explore cultural heritage no matter where you live. Take this time of social isolation to learn more about heritage offered to you from your computer with no travel needed.

Several online tours and resources are listed below: