A view of the Paul Mellon Lecture at Rockefeller University.
Blog Post

2019 Paul Mellon Lecture Explores Nepal's Heritage

A view of the Paul Mellon Lecture at Rockefeller University.

This week, friends and supporters gathered in New York City for the 2019 Paul Mellon Lecture, featuring a dynamic discussion by WMF project partner Erich Theophile, co-founder of Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust, on the recovery of Nepal’s built heritage following disaster.

On April 25, 2015, a major earthquake struck Nepal, causing thousands of human casualties and widespread destruction of buildings and infrastructure. The earthquake’s impact on heritage was extensive throughout the Kathmandu Valley, which is home to hundreds of sacred Buddhist and Hindu sites. Throughout the country, around 750 monuments were affected by the earthquake.

At the lecture, following an introduction by Kanak Mani Dixit—editor, writer, and founder of Himal Southasian—Theophile took the stage to discuss the ongoing recovery effort and the invaluable lessons learned from this destructive event. Trained as an architect at Harvard and MIT, Mr. Theophile worked in Nepal for 15 years directing the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust, now recognized as Nepal’s lead conservation agency. In 2016, the Trust nominated Char Narayan, a sixteenth-century temple that collapsed completely in the 2015 earthquake, to the World Monuments Watch. Afterwards, the Trust and World Monuments Fund launched a partnership to restore the temple, working with a Nepalese team of architects, engineers, craftsmen, and scholars with input from leading experts from around the world. Today, Char Narayan is being accurately reconstructed using salvaged materials while concealing carefully designed seismic reinforcement measures that will protect the site from future quakes.

Explore the slideshow below for more from the event.