2019 Paul Mellon Lecture

New Wisdom from Nepal: Earthquakes, Local Practice, and World Heritage

Cocktails at 6:15 pm
Lecture begins promptly at 7:00 pm
Introduction by Kanak Mani Dixit (Editor, writer, and founder of Himal Southasian)

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, according to Nepal’s Department of Archaeology.

At the 2019 Paul Mellon Lecture, Erich Theophile of the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust will discuss the ongoing recovery effort and the invaluable lessons learned from this destructive event.

This lecture is made possible with generous support from the WMF Paul Mellon Education Fund.


Erich Theophile, architect and preservation activist, founded the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust in 1990 with Harvard Professor Eduard F. Sekler to safeguard Nepal’s architectural heritage. Trained as an architect at Harvard and MIT, Mr. Theophile worked in Nepal for 15 years directing the Trust, now recognized as Nepal’s lead conservation agency. The Trust has worked on more than 100 monuments to date including a campaign to rebuild since the 2015 earthquake. Restoration work is implemented by a Nepalese team of architects, engineers, craftsmen, and scholars with inputs from leading experts from around the world. In addition to WMF’s decades-long support, Mr. Theophile has cultivated diverse funding sources including the Prince Claus Fund (Netherlands), Gerda Henkel Foundation, the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund, and UNESCO, many with Nepalese matching grants. In 2006, Mr. Theophile established the Nepal Architecture Archive at Harvard’s Francis Loeb Library, and more recently with Dr. Niels Gutschow, created Nepal’s first museum of architecture.