Blog Post

From the Archives: World Monuments Fund in Italy

Today we celebrate the Italian national holiday Festa della Repubblica (Republic Day)! World Monument Fund’s (WMF) history goes back to the 1960s, and its earliest projects were in Italy. This history is reflected in our slide collection, where the earliest slides include a series of images of Venice from the 1960s and 1970s.

The first image here is a 1995 shot of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. In 1965, WMF founder Colonel James A. Gray planted the organization’s first seeds when he conducted feasibility studies in halting the tower’s progressive leaning. Though the Tower of Pisa project was never realized, WMF has contributed to more than 70 conservation projects in Italy since its inception.

The second image is a circa 1970 shot of a Tintoretto painting being cleaned at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco in Venice (the third photo is a digitized version of this).


The last photo is a 1965 slide of the Santa Maria della Salute church overlooking the Canal Grande in Venice. While WMF has not done any work at this site, it does have a decades-long history of conservation projects specifically in Venice, including the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, the Royal Palace of Venice (Museo Correr), and the Palazzo Ducale.

The red hue of the last photo is likely due to the fading of the film due to archival preservation challenges, a reminder that the protection of our documented heritage also plays an important role in the preservation of cultural heritage.