Travelogue: World Monuments Fund in Peru
Last month I had the opportunity to travel to Peru to meet with World Monuments Fund's (WMF) affiliate team in-person and witness our work throughout the country. Home to 39 of WMF's 189 projects in Latin America, Peru is, after Mexico, the country where we have been the most engaged in the region.
My trip began in Lima, where I was welcomed by WMF Peru's fantastic team, led by Executive Director Elías Mujica, Board Chair Juan Carlos Verme, and Vice-Chair Martha Zegarra. We set off to visit one of our most recently completed projects: the restoration of the MALI Museum facades, launched in May 2020 with support from the European Union in Peru in commemoration of the Bicentennial of Peru's independence.
We also had the opportunity to meet with the interdisciplinary team of The Mountain Institute, who successfully nominated the Yanacancha-Huaquis Cultural Landscape to the 2022 Watch. Together, we developed a vision of WMF's intervention at the site, with a focus on its pre-Hispanic heritage and the ancestral knowledge of soil and water management that has allowed its community to survive in such a difficult environment.
We then traveled north to the Casma Valley to visit the Chankillo Archaeoastronomical Complex, the oldest astronomical observatory in the Americas. Supported by the Selz Foundation, WMF has worked at the site for 11 years, contributing to its UNESCO World Heritage listing in July 2021.
Our group also made a visit to Cerro Sechín, an archaeological site dating back to 2000 BCE. Thanks to support from the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation and the U.S. Embassy in Lima, our newly-launched project there will conserve engravings of human figures illustrating the site's original function as a ceremonial center. The Casma Valley contains many extraordinary heritage sites where WMF Peru continues to work with local authorities to raise awareness, advance conservation, and improve the visitor experience.
Next in the Andes near Cusco, we were able to see some of the iconic sites illustrating WMF's impact in Peru since the launch of its first project there in 1996. I was amazed by the San Pedro Apóstol de Andahuaylillas Church, the true Sistine Chapel of the Andes and one of the churches on Peru's Baroque Route, a successful initiative by WMF to conserve irreplaceable treasures of Peruvian heritage and inspire tourists visiting Machu Picchu to discover the less-visited towns nearby.
Finally, we arrived at the Sacred Valley of the Incas, a 2020 Watch site. For the past two years, WMF has worked with local partners to mitigate the impacts of the construction of the Chinchero International Airport. Rapid construction in the area already threatens the character and integrity of adjacent towns, so the need for a heritage impact assessment and tourism and urban planning is more important than ever.
WMF Peru, the only private cultural heritage organization active at a national level in the country, has a strong Board, dedicated supporters, and a great team, and I am filled with a sense of opportunity for its future. I encourage you to explore our work to preserve the extraordinarily diverse heritage of this country and thank you as always for your support. I send my deepest thanks to Manuel and Lia Ugarte, as well as to Xavier and Maria Eugenia de Romaña, for generously sponsoring this trip, and to the whole team for organizing it.
Bénédicte de Montlaur
President and CEO