Press Release

American Express, in Partnership with World Monuments Fund, Awards $1 Million in Grants to Five Sites Included on the 2016 World Monuments Watch

American Express and World Monuments Fund (WMF) announced today $1 million in grant funding to support preservation efforts at five historic sites currently on the 2016 World Monuments Watch.

The projects receiving funding are: Char Narayan, a sixteenth-century temple in Nepal that was reduced to rubble during the catastrophic earthquake on April 25, 2015; the Arch of Janus, one of the remaining unrestored monuments at the Forum Boarium in Rome, Italy; a nineteenth-century gatehouse located in Mexico City’s Chapultepec Park, the oldest and largest public park in Latin America; the historic convents of Seville, Spain; and Moseley Road Baths, an Edwardian swimming complex in the United Kingdom.

“We are grateful for the longstanding support of American Express to the World Monuments Watch,” said Joshua David, President and CEO of World Monuments Fund. “For over 20 years, they have given more than $16 million to help preserve 160 heritage sites in 70 countries. This generous support has been transformative to these historic sites and our work would not be possible without this significant contribution.”

“Historic preservation has long been a hallmark of American Express and we are proud to serve as a founding sponsor of the World Monuments Watch,” said Timothy J. McClimon, President of the American Express Foundation. “Conserving the world’s most treasured places is an important investment in our history and the heritage of future generations.”

American Express has partnered with a number of leading preservation organizations throughout the past two decades to help preserve sites in need, build awareness, and engage the public in preservation efforts across the world. Through these partnerships and other individual grants, American Express has granted more than $50 million to support hundreds of preservation projects.

Char Narayan Temple, Nepal: A year ago today, a devastating earthquake rocked Nepal. The earthquake, and its associated aftershocks, claimed thousands of lives and damaged or destroyed many examples of Nepal’s cultural heritage.  Support from American Express and WMF will help to rebuild Char Narayan, the oldest of the temples located in Patan’s Durbar Square. WMF’s long-standing partner in Nepal, Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust (KVPT), will conduct all necessary work on-site and lead the conservation program. For WMF and KVPT this is an especially meaningful collaboration; years before the earthquake, both organizations 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 seismic retrofitting measures employed to strengthen the structures.

"For nearly 20 years, World Monuments Fund has partnered with Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust to support our ambitious program to preserve the architectural heritage of the Kathmandu Valley,” said Erich Theophile from KVPT.  “At this time of need, we are fortunate that once again—in alliance with American Express—WMF has taken the lead role in helping KVPT to recover, rebuild, and strengthen a monument of major local, cultural, and historical significance. Since 1565 the Char Narayan temple has been a focal point of the urban townscape of Patan's main square. We are grateful that a renewed WMF–KVPT partnership will lead the critical work on Char Narayan.”

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. WMF 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. WMF 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 millions of 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 decreasing 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, WMF 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: Moseley Road Baths serves a diverse urban community in Birmingham, England. 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 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.

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