What is the World Monuments Watch?
The World Monuments Watch is a nomination-based program that connects local heritage preservation to global awareness and action. Every two years, the Watch rallies support to places in need and the people who care for them, spotlighting new challenges and the communities worldwide harnessing heritage to confront the crucial issues of our time. At its core, the Watch’s call to action seeks to empower timely preservation efforts that improve the lives of communities. The 2025 Watch will include 25 places, each telling an urgent local story with global relevance. Through this initiative, World Monuments Fund (WMF) partners with the people who know these places best, amplifying their efforts through advocacy, capacity building, and close collaboration with WMF’s expert team and professionals across the globe.
The 2025 Watch
The 2025 World Monuments Watch invites nominations for heritage places facing urgent challenges and where preservation can bring transformative change and creative solutions.
Heritage places hold great meaning for individuals and communities around the globe. They are sources of inspiration, memory, and identity, as well as places where people live, work, worship, play, and create. Yet in our dynamic and rapidly changing world, these places can face numerous threats. Experienced locally, such threats often resonate with pressures to heritage across our planet—from unsustainable tourism and unchecked urbanization to natural disasters and climate change. At the same time, heritage holds huge potential to address contemporary societal needs. It can enhance resilience, drive sustainable development, and foster mutual understanding across peoples and cultures. In a world grappling with many shared challenges—from environmental degradation to persistent inequalities to human conflict to forced migration, among others—the ingenuity of local solutions can resonate far beyond the bounds of a single community.
Recognizing the breadth of challenges affecting places and people around the world, the Watch seeks nominations that highlight how heritage preservation can respond today and help build a stronger future.
- What kinds of nominations are we looking for?
- What do Watch sites look like?
- What will successful nominations receive?
- Nominator Profile and Requirements
- Program Cycle and Activities
- How to Submit a Nomination
The Watch seeks nominations that rank highly according to these criteria:
- Cultural significance: How deeply does the nominated place embody, reflect, or relate to the culture or history of a community, country, or region? Can its preservation inspire an appreciation for the richness and diversity of our shared past?
- Relevance to urgent issues: Does the nomination respond to imminent threats or time-sensitive opportunities? Does the nomination have unmistakable ties to salient socio-cultural or environmental issues with global resonance?
- Potential for community benefit: How can preserving the nominated site meaningfully benefit communities? Does the nomination show the potential to enhance or enrich the social, cultural, economic, or environmental life of communities or otherwise yield benefits through the preservation process?
- Feasibility: Can World Monuments Fund effectively support the nomination with the resources and expertise that we can offer? Are there foreseeable challenges that could impede an impactful collaboration?
The most competitive nominations for the 2025 Watch will demonstrate a place’s deep importance to the past and present lives of communities and inspire action through relevance to the most pressing issues of our time.
Heritage places of all types and from any time period, ancient to modern, are eligible. They may include archaeological sites, civic buildings, residences, sacred or religious sites, parks, gardens, cultural landscapes, commercial or leisure destinations, engineering or industrial structures, historic city centers, and more. Places do not need to be monumental in the traditional sense but should be significant to our shared human past in some way and have relevance to contemporary societal needs or local community objectives, whether social, cultural, economic, environmental, or otherwise.
If your nomination is selected for inclusion in the 2025 Watch, your efforts will benefit from the following opportunities:
- Global press coverage and publicity through a major public announcement and media event, and features in WMF’s events series and media channels;
- Consultation with WMF’s team of experts across the two-year Watch cycle to evaluate needs and co-design strategies for advocacy, fundraising, and preservation;
- Opportunities to collaborate with leading organizations in storytelling and communications through creative partnerships, as available;
- Exclusive membership to the Watch Network, a platform for current and previous successful Watch nominators, WMF associates, and experts worldwide to collaborate, exchange insights, and access resources, events, and expertise;
- Financial support for a unique community-based event known as a “Watch Day” celebrating the importance and custodianship of heritage places;
- Assistance in developing and implementing a dedicated preservation project, including advocacy campaigns, planning, research, education, and physical interventions in the historic built environment, contingent upon the success of fundraising efforts.
Nominations are free to submit and open to all. We welcome nominations from groups, organizations, and individuals, including those listed below:
Stewards of community-owned heritage; representatives of civil society organizations; Indigenous groups; heritage professionals; artists and creative professionals; private individuals; activist groups; academics and educational institutions; architecture, art, and design students; government agencies; and more.
In addition to groups with heritage preservation as their mission, we encourage organizations or individuals in different fields to submit nominations to the Watch and explain how their interests align with the program.
Successful nominators and World Monuments Fund will work together extensively. Nominators should be prepared to correspond directly with us about the nomination and to serve as the official representative for its inclusion on the 2025 Watch. Successful nominators will be expected to provide frequent updates about the site, facilitate media coverage, promote community engagement, and collaborate with WMF through consultation or, in some instances, project development.
The endorsement of a site’s legal owner is encouraged but not required. In relevant cases, owners of selected sites will be notified of the site’s inclusion prior to the announcement of the 2025 Watch.
Throughout a two-year cycle starting in January 2025, nominations selected for the 2025 Watch will have opportunities to enhance communication, build engagement, and work together with WMF to develop preservation strategies and, in certain cases, implement dedicated projects.
The announcement of the Watch is a major media event that reaches global audiences. World Monuments Fund will work to raise international awareness of all 25 sites through news outlets, social media, and our website, as well as by coordinating with nominators and site partners to support local advocacy efforts. In this way, the Watch seeks to stimulate a sense of urgency and encourage stakeholder cooperation. In the announcement, sites may be grouped thematically to bring awareness to key issues and opportunities emerging from the open call.
Building a Relationship
Over the two years, World Monuments Fund will work with nominators and other stakeholders to evaluate and prioritize local needs at the site and co-design strategies for advocacy, preservation, and fundraising. This two-year engagement forms the basis of the Watch’s support for each site and will be tailored to the needs of each particular case.
Inclusion on the Watch results in the opportunity for WMF, nominators, and other relevant groups to seek funds for a targeted preservation project. If funds are raised, which is not guaranteed, they will be used to support joint work between WMF and the local partner. Project activities may include targeted advocacy campaigns, planning, research, and education, as well as physical interventions in the historic built environment. Emphasis will be placed on projects that deliver demonstrable social benefits.
Nominators may also take advantage of the attention drawn to Watch sites to leverage additional support from a variety of sources, including national, regional, and municipal governments; foundations; corporations; other international organizations; and private donors.
World Monuments Fund collaborates with leading organizations in the fields of communications and storytelling to provide Watch sites with new tools to creatively share their stories, engage new audiences, and advocate for preservation. From online exhibitions to artistic projects, WMF has teamed up with organizations like Google Arts & Culture and Magnum Foundation in the past to support storytelling through the Watch. Based on need and availability, WMF will work with local partners to match their sites to an opportunity that suits their goals.
The Watch Network
Successful nominators will gain exclusive membership to the Watch Network. New for the 2025 Watch cycle, this initiative brings together current and past Watch nominators alongside WMF project associates and preservation experts to share insights, experiences, and perspectives from the field. Membership privileges include access to virtual events and professional trainings as well as an array of resources tailored to inspire exchange and collaboration and support site managers.
Community Engagement through Watch Day
To further catalyze local engagement and support, World Monuments Fund will work with local partners to organize a day of community engagement activities dedicated to building awareness and participation in preservation efforts, known as a “Watch Day.” In the 2025 cycle, $2,500 will be made available to each site in support of Watch Day activities.
Nominations to the 2025 World Monuments Watch can be submitted by completing an online nomination form. To get started on a new nomination, please:
Nominations will be accepted until March 15, 2024, at 5 pm EDT.
Examples from past cycles of the Watch
Some examples illustrate the range of nominators, initiatives, and intended outcomes:
Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Chile:
The Ma’u Henua Indigenous Community, the administrators of Rapa Nui National Park after a successful campaign for greater Indigenous control, nominated the site to the 2020 Watch program seeking WMF’s assistance to preserve the unique rock carvings of Orongo. Since the nomination, WMF and the Ma’u Henua community have worked together with experts in geology and structural engineering to study the issues, identify potential solutions, and facilitate a community-based decision-making process.
Hitis of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal
Traditional water fountains known as hitis, dating as far back as the sixth century CE, are instrumental for nearly 20% of Kathmandu Valley’s residents who lack reliable access to water. Nominated by the local group Chiva Chaitya Organization, the site’s inclusion on the 2022 Watch called attention to how hitis can help to address an ongoing water crisis exacerbated by climate change. WMF is now working with local partners to study and rehabilitate hitis for continued community use, thus raising awareness about their value to present-day life in the Kathmandu Valley.
Moseley Road Baths, United Kingdom
Local advocates nominated this Edwardian public bath to bring attention to the city council’s plan to shutter it due to budget constraints. Through the Watch, WMF joined a coalition including the Friends of Moseley Road Baths to call awareness to the site’s continuing importance as a hub for health and community wellbeing. Since the Watch, a £32.7-million master plan spearheaded by the National Trust has gone into implementation to revitalize the baths and the nearby library and turn them into a community and cultural center.
Mam Rashan Shrine, Iraq
This shrine to Mam Rashan, a Yazidi saint, was nominated to the 2020 Watch by the Eyzidi Organization for Documentation after the building was destroyed in 2014 by Daesh (also known as ISIS). Locals sought the reconstruction of the shrine for the benefit of the Yazidi community returning to Sinjar after liberation. WMF worked closely with local partners to reconstruct the Mam Rashan Shrine and again make it a center of worship and ceremony.
Koutammakou, Land of the Batammariba, Benin and Togo
The Batammariba people have long maintained their earthen construction traditions, epitomized in their takienta dwellings (sikien in the plural). Nominated to the 2020 Watch, WMF worked with local partners to preserve and transmit traditional construction and maintenance knowledge despite societal shifts. The collaboration has emphasized socio-economic empowerment, working with local artisans and community members for the hands-on conservation of select structures. To ensure sustainability, an environmental component saw the planting of 5,000 trees, reforesting necessary wooden elements for sikien construction
Alabama Civil Rights Sites, United States:
Nominated by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, these 12 sites include churches, places of lodging, and other meeting spaces throughout Alabama that have played significant roles in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. Their inclusion on the 2018 Watch supported the creation of a growing consortium of sites that amplify individual local efforts in identifying, preserving, and promoting this important heritage. The collaboration also bore Voices of Alabama, an oral history project documenting these sites’ stories and their contributions to the long-fought African American struggle for freedom and equality.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How competitive is the selection process?
- Are places on the Watch considered endangered or at risk?
- Are privately owned sites eligible?
- Does WMF assume ownership of the sites included in the Watch?
- What if a place has been included in the Watch before?
- Is the Watch a potential source of funding?
- What happens if no funds are raised?
Over the years we have received between 200 and 300 nominations for each cycle of the Watch. We are always seeking ways to be more responsive to the many worthy requests for our attention and assistance.
WMF believes the world should be “watching” important heritage places and recognizing their stewards for a variety of reasons. Places on the Watch are each dealing with unique sets of circumstances and challenges, often representing opportunities for new positive outcomes that may include mitigating risk factors or delivering timely community benefits. While some nominators may advocate for at-risk places, we encourage all kinds of nominations that show how heritage and preservation can make a meaningful difference to the most crucial issues of our time.
Privately owned sites are eligible for the Watch, but private ownership may limit our potential for action. Only places that serve the public interest can benefit financially from World Monuments Fund.
No. Listing on the Watch should not be construed as a claim of ownership.
Places that have been nominated or included in previous cycles of the Watch program may be nominated again. They will undergo the same evaluation and selection process, with additional emphasis placed on how circumstances have changed in the intervening period.
World Monuments Fund is not a grant-making institution, and the process of nominating a site to the Watch is not a grant application. Inclusion on the Watch can create new opportunities for nominators and other stakeholders to advocate for sites and seek funds for a preservation project if they so choose. Additionally, WMF often raises funds from individuals and grant-making institutions for certain Watch sites to support joint work between WMF and our local partners.
Because the needs and circumstances around each site vary, WMF works closely with successful nominators and other stakeholders to determine the best way to leverage the Watch to make a meaningful contribution at each site. In all cases, successful nominations will benefit from public awareness through the Watch, collaboration with WMF’s expert staff, financial support for a community-based event known as a “Watch Day,” and membership to WMF’s Watch Network.