Blog Post

In Memoriam: H. Peter Stern

This week, the world lost a dedicated champion of cultural heritage.

World Monuments Fund mourns the death of H. Peter Stern, a board member from 1971 to 2011, retiring as Vice Chair. His years of service to WMF do not begin to define his generosity, passion, and intellect in championing our organization and the future of the world’s most treasured heritage sites.

During his years on the board, Stern traveled frequently to WMF sites, participated in events and board trips, and hosted WMF guests on many occasions at Storm King Art Center, which he co-founded in 1960. Stern was a passionate contributor to many WMF projects, particularly Easter Island, Angkor’s Preah Khan, and Brancusi’s Endless Column.

H. Peter Stern and a WMF group in front of Brancusi’s Endless Column

To honor his legacy of service spanning four decades, World Monuments Fund established the H. Peter Stern Lecture in 2012. The series draws inspiration from the work of Arnold Toynbee, an English historian and philosopher of history who authored a twelve-volume analysis of the rise and fall of civilizations. While at Harvard, Stern read Toynbee’s work and resolved to follow in the historian’s footsteps to see what remained of the world’s great civilizations. In kind, the series features speakers who share a vision of civilization’s great places and who continue the cycle of inspiration and intellectual curiosity that Stern carried out.

From left, Bob Wilson, Bonnie Burnham, Marilyn Perry, and H. Peter Stern.

"Peter Stern was the embodiment of a champion of heritage," said Lisa Ackerman, Interim Chief Executive Officer, World Monuments Fund. "His quest for knowledge was boundless and his passion for art, music, architecture, landscape, and history were evident in every conservation. Anyone who knew Peter admired his enthusiasm, intelligence, and good humor. Speaking for everyone who knew him during his 40 years of WMF Board service, it was a joy to spend time with Peter."

H. Peter Stern will be remembered with great fondness and admiration.