What is the World Monuments Watch?
The World Monuments Watch, or “the Watch,” is a two-year program that seeks to discover, spotlight, and take action on behalf of heritage places facing challenges or presenting outstanding opportunities of direct relevance to our global society. Every two-year cycle of the Watch includes 25 heritage places from around the world, selected for their cultural significance, the cause for action in light of internationally pressing issues, and the potential for World Monuments Fund to make a meaningful difference. Through the Watch, WMF collaborates with local partners to design and implement targeted conservation programs—including advocacy, planning, education, and physical interventions in the historic built environment. The ultimate goal of the program since its inception has been to improve human well-being through cultural heritage preservation. As the core program of World Monuments Fund, the Watch is the main way through which WMF engages with new partners and pursues new opportunities for collaboration.
The 2022 Watch
The 2022 cycle of the Watch is taking place amidst circumstances that have revealed the profound interconnectedness of our world. In its global spread the Covid-19 pandemic has brought tragic loss of life and livelihood and continues to disrupt the functioning of many societies. In challenging the well-being of communities, the pandemic has also upset the operations of heritage places while bringing about drastic reductions in the resources available to them. More broadly, Covid-19 has laid bare the dependence of heritage protection on mass tourism and the tourism economy in so many parts of the world, pointing to the need for greater destination resilience. In its disruptive effects around the world, the pandemic resembles other looming challenges, including global climate change and its real and anticipated impacts. And critically, the world’s connectedness has also been made visible in the transnational spread of calls for equity and justice in public space, the landmarks that it encompasses, and the narratives that they represent. The most competitive nominations to the 2022 Watch will illuminate and propose innovative ways to address these challenges or point to other challenges and opportunities that are emerging.
We are looking for nominations with clear potential to respond to the global challenges of climate change, imbalanced tourism, and the need to amplify underrepresented voices and cultural narratives.
Recent events across the globe have laid bare the fact that certain groups have not only been overlooked, but actively excluded from representation in public space and in decision-making about what should be preserved and how. We seek nominations that raise the voices of the unheard and spotlight heritage that remains underrepresented.
Communities everywhere are confronting climate change and its ability to impact the heritage places they value. At the same time, cultural heritage is playing a role in our global response, from mitigation to adaption and beyond. We seek nominations that illuminate the many ways heritage interacts with climate change.
Tourism brings positive and negative side effects for heritage places and their communities, often raising serious challenges for society. We seek nominations that present innovative strategies for addressing the impact of imbalanced tourism on heritage places and their communities.
- What kinds of nominations are we looking for?
- Types of Sites
- Nominator Profile and Requirements
- Program Cycle and Activities
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How to Submit a Nomination
- Nomination Guidelines in PDF Format (+ Translations in 8 languages)
We desire nominations that can rank highly according to the following broad criteria:
- The cultural significance of the nominated site
- The need or opportunity for urgent or timely action
- The feasibility of the proposed approach
We are also looking for nominations with clear potential to respond to the global need to ensure equitable representation for all, and the pressing challenges of climate change and imbalanced tourism.
Heritage places worldwide reflect the cultural richness resulting from human activity across the ages. But in choosing to recognize and honor some places, accomplishments, and narratives, societies risk diminishing our shared cultural diversity by privileging the narratives of certain groups and marginalizing those of others. Across the globe, recent events have laid bare the reality that certain groups—their values and their histories—have not only been overlooked, but actively excluded from representation in public space and in decision-making about what should be preserved and how. Moreover, transnational calls for equity and justice have highlighted the role that some monuments can play in perpetuating past injustices. At the same time, heritage places with difficult pasts are demonstrating their potential to help us confront our troubled history and create more equitable and just societies. In response to this recognition we seek to represent the full breadth of our cultural heritage, and we are seeking nominations with the potential to:
- Highlight heritage places that have been underrepresented within their context, and honor narratives that have been overlooked or excluded in the past
- Study, survey, and compile inventories of underrepresented heritage
- Support communities whose lives have been disrupted by external events in recording their stories, knowledge, and skills
- Proactively include underrepresented groups in preservation decision-making (whether due to ethnicity, caste, race, religion, gender, migrant status, disability, sexual orientation)
- Pose insightful questions about monuments and memorialization, and seek new ways to commemorate significant events and social movements
Meeting the challenges posed by the climate crisis is a global responsibility. We seek nominations that can illuminate the many ways in which heritage places interact with climate change. Communities everywhere face the loss or substantial change to heritage places they value, resulting from the physical impacts of climate change. At the same time, evidence of those impacts can communicate the urgency for climate action. Built heritage may contribute to mitigation of climate change, through the reuse of existing buildings to avoid the emissions resulting from new construction, combined with retrofits to reduce their energy use and pollution, but mitigation efforts can also impact valued aspects of heritage places. Cultural resources can contribute to community resilience and may form part of adaptation strategies. But the prospect of unavoidable loss and change in the historic built environment may mean that we need to make greater allowance for those potentials. In response to these challenges, we are seeking nominations that can:
- Demonstrate the impacts of climate change on heritage places and communicate the urgency of the climate crisis
- Show how heritage places can actively contribute to climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resilience
- Improve planning around heritage places to lessen the effects of climate change and build resilience
- Address the compatibility between preservation and renewable energy development, through case studies or policy development
- Explore new ways of understanding what people value in the historic environment, to help make better decisions around adaptation to climate change
- Explore ways of recording and commemorating disappearing heritage
Tourism brings positive and negative side effects for heritage places and their communities, often raising serious challenges for society. When visitor numbers grow uncontrollably, they can detract from the quality of life of those living near popular destinations, and can lead to affordability crises and the unwanted displacement of long-time residents, impacting the very communities that sustain heritage places. Large visitor numbers also lead to wear and tear for the important sites that communities value. Excessive reliance on revenue from tourism can limit the resilience of places, as seen in the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on tourism destinations. When that happens, declining visitation means that fewer resources are available for the maintenance and upkeep of places that communities hold dear. Declining revenue from tourism can also lead government to further reduce public investment in culture. Even when managed responsibly, tourism strategies can be improved to maximize the rewards for communities and visitors alike, integrating practices that support equity. In response to these challenges, we are seeking nominations with the potential to:
- Improve the experience of visiting heritage places, through innovative and accessible methods
- Attract local/domestic tourists and become less reliant on long-distance visitors
- Enhance visitor management
- Develop and implement innovative ways for people to experience heritage, and the conservation process, remotely
- Build resilience of tourism destinations generally and cultural heritage sites specifically
- More equitably realize the benefits of tourism within heritage communities
In addition to the issues outlined in this section, we welcome nominations that point to other related or emerging issues that ought to compel greater global attention and impact our world’s cultural heritage.
Heritage places of all types and from any cultural period—ancient to modern—are eligible for inclusion on the 2022 World Monuments Watch. They may include archaeological sites, civic buildings, commercial or leisure destinations, residences, religious or sacred buildings and sites, engineering or industrial structures, gardens, parks, cultural landscapes, and cityscapes or entire historic city centers. Sites do not have to be monumental in character, but need to convey significance to our shared past. In evaluating cultural significance we take an inclusive view, considering the full breadth of the values represented and the context of each nominated site.
Anyone can nominate a site to the 2022 World Monuments Watch, including private individuals and representatives of civil society organizations, community groups, government agencies, educational institutions, or other entities. In addition to groups with heritage conservation as their mission, we are encouraging organizations in different fields to submit nominations to the World Monuments Watch, and to explain how their agendas align with ours. The endorsement of a site’s legal owner is encouraged but not required. Owners of selected sites will be notified of the site’s inclusion prior to the announcement of the 2022 World Monuments Watch.
During and after the nomination, review, and selection processes, and after the announcement of the Watch, significant cooperation will be required between nominators and World Monuments Fund. Nominators should be prepared to correspond directly with World Monuments Fund about the nomination and to serve as the official sponsor of the site for its inclusion on the 2022 World Monuments Watch. Successful nominators will be expected to provide frequent updates regarding the site, facilitate media coverage, promote community engagement, and collaborate with World Monuments Fund in project development.
Throughout a two-year cycle starting in October 2021, nominators and the sites selected for the 2022 Watch will have numerous opportunities to enhance communication, build engagement, and work together to develop an appropriate project.
The announcement of the Watch is a major media event that reaches a large audience around the world. World Monuments Fund will work to raise international awareness about all 25 sites through traditional news outlets, social media, our website, and by coordinating with nominators to support local advocacy efforts. In this way, the Watch seeks to stimulate a sense of urgency and encourage stakeholder cooperation.
Community Engagement through Watch Day
To further catalyze local engagement and cooperation, World Monuments Fund will work with nominators to organize Watch Day, a day of community engagement activities dedicated to building support for shared efforts.
Building a Relationship and Developing a Joint Project
World Monuments Fund will work with nominators and other stakeholders to jointly develop a targeted project. Project activities can include local and international advocacy campaigns, planning, research, education, as well as physical interventions in the historic built environment. The goal of all projects will be to deploy the methods of heritage conservation in ways that address issues of broader relevance.
World Monuments Fund will seek funds from a range of sources to support these projects. While a specific amount cannot be guaranteed, resources can be allocated as funding partners are identified and programs evolve. Nominators may also be able to take advantage of the attention drawn to Watch sites in order to leverage additional support from a variety of sources, including national, regional, and municipal governments, foundations, corporations, other international organizations, and private donors.
Are sites on the Watch considered to be endangered or at-risk?
The 25 sites that are included on the Watch all face unique sets of circumstances and challenges, often representing timely opportunities for new positive outcomes that include mitigating a variety of risk factors. While some nominators may advocate for at-risk sites, we encourage all kinds of nominations that show how heritage and preservation can make a meaningful difference in the most relevant issues of our time.
How competitive is the selection process?
Over the years nominations to the Watch have ranged between 200 and 300 for each cycle. We are constantly seeking ways to be more responsive to the many worthy requests for our attention and assistance.
Are privately owned sites eligible?
Privately owned sites are eligible for inclusion on the Watch, but private ownership may limit our potential for action. Only sites that serve the public interest can benefit financially from World Monuments Fund.
What if a site has been included on the Watch before?
Sites that have been nominated or included in previous cycles of the Watch program may be nominated again. They will undergo the same review and selection process, with additional emphasis given on how the circumstances surrounding the site have changed in the intervening period.
Is the World Monuments Watch a potential source of funding for my site?
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 results in the opportunity for WMF, nominators, and other stakeholders to jointly develop a conservation project. Funds raised by WMF are used to support joint work between WMF and our partners.
Nominations for the 2022 World Monuments Watch are no longer being accepted. Nominations for the 2024 cycle of the World Monuments Watch will open in 2023. Please direct any relevant inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Examples from the 2020 Watch
Some examples from the 2020 cycle of the Watch program illustrate the range of nominators, project types, and intended outcomes:
Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Chile
Rapa Nui was nominated to the 2020 World Monuments Watch by the Ma’u Henua Indigenous Community, who are responsible for the administration of Rapa Nui National Park after a successful campaign for greater indigenous control. The community nominated Rapa Nui to the Watch seeking WMF’s assistance in finding an appropriate way forward to preserve the unique rock carvings of the site of Orongo. WMF and the Ma’u Henua community are working with experts in geology and structural engineering to study the issue, identify options, and facilitate a community-based decision-making process.
Bennerley Viaduct, United Kingdom
This historic wrought-iron viaduct in the East Midlands of England was nominated to the 2020 World Monuments Watch by a volunteer group, the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct, seeking support and visibility for their effort to reclaim and restore the structure and open it to community use. Through the Watch, WMF joined a coalition of civil society organizations supporting action at the site, and is working with the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct to develop and implement educational and community engagement activities.
Mam Rashan Shrine, Mount Sinjar, Iraq
This shrine to Mam Rashan, a Yazidi saint, was nominated to the 2020 World Monuments Watch by the Eyzidi Organization for Documentation, after being destroyed in 2014 by the self-proclaimed Islamic State. The site was included on the Watch to make the case for the reconstruction of Yazidi shrines for the benefit of those Yazidis who have returned or wish to return to Sinjar, and to express solidarity with a community against which a brutal crime was committed. WMF is currently working with the Eyzidi Organization for Documentation, historians, and other experts, to reconstruct the Mam Rashan Shrine.
Ontario Place, Toronto, Canada
Ontario Place, a lakefront amenity that opened in 1971 on a group of artificial islands in Lake Ontario, was nominated to the 2020 World Monuments Watch by Ontario Place for All, a grassroots group formed to advocate for the future of the site. The nominators and their partners are resisting efforts by the Ontario government to redevelop the site without public consultation. Through a partnership with the nominators and with Canadian academic institutions, WMF is contributing to shared efforts through a design competition, historical and archival research, documentation, a social media campaign, public events, and a planned virtual symposium.
Inari-yu Bathhouse, Tokyo, Japan
This historic public bathhouse was nominated to the 2020 Watch on behalf of its private owners to call attention to the decline of communal bathing as part of Japanese daily life. Through a project that will transform an attached structure into an informal gathering space, WMF is seeking to demonstrate that historic bathhouses can continue to promote social interaction, combating loneliness and isolation for those who need it, while attracting new customers, including foreign visitors seeking to learn about a distinctly Japanese way of life.
Central Aguirre Historic District, Puerto Rico, United States
The residential area of Central Aguirre, a former company town for an American sugar company, was nominated to the Watch by the State Historic Preservation Office of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico after being damaged by the passing of hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. By working with a local organization and the local government, WMF will host a field school on traditional wooden construction methods for residents and tradespeople and is jointly developing a model restoration project.