Five heritage sites on the 2016 World Monuments Watch—in Nepal, Italy, Mexico, Spain, and the United Kingdom—will receive significant new funding in support of their preservation efforts, thanks to a $1 million grant from American Express.
For more than two decades, American Express has invested over $16 million in the preservation of 160 heritage sites in 70 countries, a transformative level of support that has made essential work possible, helping to ensure futures for historic sites around the world.
Explore all five sites below, and check back for updates on our blog.
Char Narayan Temple, Nepal
A devastating earthquake rocked Nepal on April 25, 2015, claiming thousands of lives and damaging or destroying hundreds of Nepal’s cultural heritage sites. Support from American Express and WMF will help to rebuild Char Narayan, the oldest of the temples located in Patan’s Durbar Square, reduced to rubble by the earthquake. Our longstanding partner in Nepal, Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust (KVPT), will lead the conservation program. For WMF and KVPT this is an especially meaningful collaboration; years before the earthquake, we worked together to support preservation at a selection of buildings in Kathmandu, many of which survived the earthquake with little or no damage due to the seismic retrofitting that was done. Find out more about Nepal and our disaster recovery efforts.
Arch of Janus, Italy
Support from American Express and WMF will launch a conservation program for the Arch of Janus, one of the important extant buildings of the Forum Boarium, the great marketplace of ancient Rome. The four-sided arch is surrounded by a fence and has not been accessible to the public since 1993. The nearby temples of Hercules and Portunus were included on the World Monuments Watch in 1996 and 2006, respectively, and were restored with support from American Express and other donors. We will collaborate with the Superintendency for the Coliseum and the Central Archaeological Area to complete a study and carry out the complete restoration of the Arch of Janus, which will help expand the visitor experience of the Forum Boarium and offer the public a richer understanding of this ancient commercial space.
Chapultepec Park, Mexico
Containing nine museums, a zoo, an amusement park, and a variety of green recreational spaces located near popular commercial districts, Chapultepec Park is an invaluable ecological oasis, and a cultural, social, and civic space. Support from American Express and WMF will help to transform the former nineteenth-century gatehouse building, which served as an entrance to the military school that once operated in the park, into a museum and orientation center. We will work with the Chapultepec Trust to restore this iconic building, which will become an important link between the nineteenth-century origins of Chapultepec Park and its use in the twenty-first century as a major cultural and recreation destination for visitors and residents of Mexico City.
Convents of Seville, Spain
Throughout Seville, cloistered convents built between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries are challenged by the decline in number of monastic communities and the means available to maintain them. Some convents have been able to meet this challenge by adapting and opening areas for public use and programming. By doing so, the convents generate economic resources to sustain their conservation and upkeep. Creating more tourism options will also benefit the historic city, which will help relieve the pressure at its most popular tourist destinations. With support from American Express, we will collaborate with the city’s tourism office and the Instituto Andalúz de Patrimonio Histórico to create a printed guidebook of the remaining convents, highlighting their historic and artistic importance. A pilot project will be carried out in the Convent of Santa Inés, a fourteenth-century convent for Franciscan nuns, to allow partial public use of the space.
Moseley Road Baths, United Kingdom
Birmingham’s Moseley Road Baths opened in 1907 and have served the surrounding community for more than a century. In addition to private baths—which are no longer in use —the complex contained two swimming pools. The first class gala pool, with filigree cast iron arches spanning over a space surrounded by spectator galleries on three sides, has been closed since 2003 for safety reasons. A smaller pool remains popular with swimmers of all ages. The entire Edwardian-era complex is now at risk of closure due to cutbacks in government spending. Local advocates, led by the Friends of Moseley Road Baths, have mobilized since 2006 to keep the baths open and make the case for their social, historical, and architectural significance. The baths are the oldest of only three bathing complexes in Britain listed in the Grade II* category by Historic England still in operation. Support from American Express and WMF will help with advocacy efforts to ensure that the complex—with its historic interiors and rare, century-old fixtures—remains open for future generations to enjoy.