2022 World Monuments Summit
On Saturday, October 22, the second annual World Monuments Summit brought together World Monuments Fund's (WMF) global team of experts, supporters, partners, thought leaders, and guests for a series of conversations on heritage preservation.
Held in person for the first time, the 2022 World Monuments Summit took place at Rockefeller Center in New York City, home to WMF's new headquarters. The one-of-a-kind event featured WMF’s international network of cultural heritage specialists and advocates to learn about the future of WMF’s work and support our efforts to preserve a myriad of cultural heritage sites and monuments around the world.
The event started with Bénédicte de Montlaur, WMF’s President and CEO, reinforcing World Monuments Fund’s mission: “One of WMF’s missions is to raise awareness on the central importance of heritage places in our daily lives. These are not lifeless buildings and sites we are restoring but rather spaces that bring vitality, character, and activity to communities. Through our work, we aim to spotlight stories that bring these strong connections to light. That is especially the case when it comes to underrepresented sites whose stories are not often told, despite how treasured they are by the people around them.
She then proceeded to introduce Sumayya Vally, Founder and Principal of Counterspace Studio and recent addition to the Board of Directors of World Monuments Fund Britain. Sumayya currently serves as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and Artistic Director of the first-ever Islamic Arts Biennale. She recently became the youngest architect ever to design a Serpentine Pavilion in London.
The first panel discussion of the day, “WMF and Magnum Foundation: A Visual Storytelling Partnership to Challenge Narratives & Save Irreplaceable Heritage” featured a conversation between Award-winning documentary photographer and president of Magnum Foundation Susan Meiselas, Bénédicte de Montlaur, and WMF’s Senior Director of Programs Yiannis Avramides, where they explored the challenges of storytelling through photography at heritage sites around the world.
This panel also kicked off a unique collaboration between the Magnum Foundation and WMF to showcase the talents of emerging, local photographers at WMF’s 2022 World Monuments Watch sites around the globe.
As Yiannis Avramides mentioned, “The Watch Program allows us to discover, spotlight, and to take action at Heritage places around the globe. These places all have in common the fact that they are facing major challenges to their protection, their existence, and the ability to enjoy and share these sites not only today but for future generations. The Watch program allows us to discover these sites by putting on a global call to submit nominations."
As the afternoon moved to its second panel, “30 Years of Philanthropic Support: A Perspective on the Evolution of Heritage Preservation,” Jonathan Bell, WMF’s Vice President of Programs, discussed the recent paradigm shifts in cultural heritage preservation with Suzanne Deal Booth, Founder and President of Friends of Heritage Preservation and 2022 Hadrian Gala Honoree.
During their conversation, Suzanne looked back at Friends of Heritage Preservation’s early projects with WMF, our current partnership at the Marine Stations in Lisbon, a 2022 World Monuments Watch site, and the evolution of philanthropy in heritage preservation.
The third and final panel of the day, “The Power of the Watch: A Spotlight on the Colossi of Memnon in Luxor, Egypt” was highlighted by internationally renowned designer Christian Louboutin, archaeologist Hourig Sourouzian, and architect and designer Thomas Heatherwick who were joined by Bénédicte de Montlaur to talk about past and ongoing work to resurrect Amenhotep III's extraordinary mortuary temple in Luxor, Egypt.
Christian Louboutin spoke about his deep passion for cultural heritage, his love for the Egyptian pharaonic culture, and what led him to become a major funder for the project at the Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III. Esteemed Archaeologist and Director of the Colossi of Memnon, Hourig Sourouzian, walked the audience through the fascinating history of the site and Thomas Heatherwick added to the discussion by sharing a modern view into cultural preservation.
The World Monuments Summit was part of a series of events leading up to the 33rd Hadrian Gala, which returned to an in-person format for the first time in two years and took place at Rockefeller Center’s iconic Rainbow Room on October 24.