Press Release

Magnum Foundation and World Monuments Fund Award $120,000 in Grants Via Unique Global Collaboration to Build More Inclusive Narratives Around Cultural Heritage

New York, NY, October 24, 2022—World Monuments Fund (WMF) and Magnum Foundation today announce a unique global collaboration aimed at showcasing the talents of emerging, local photographers as they tell the stories of cultural heritage sites from the perspectives of local stakeholders. 

Magnum Foundation will award twelve grants of $10,000 each, totaling $120,000, to emerging photographers with documentary projects focusing on cultural heritage sites included on WMF’s 2022 World Monuments Watch, a biannual, nomination-based program that advocates for heritage sites of extraordinary cultural significance whose preservation is urgent and vital to local communities. Part of Magnum Foundation’s 2022 Counter Histories initiative supporting projects that creatively reframe the past to engage with urgent questions of the present and future, this partnership leverages Magnum Foundation’s global grantee network to produce nuanced visual storytelling about these important sites while providing the photographers with continued training, support, and exposure. Each photographer will have access to a Magnum Foundation mentor, as well as editorial support to produce an in-depth portfolio.

This year-long initiative will create an unparalleled look at each heritage site through visual storytelling that evokes the voices of participants often absent in site narratives—among them builders, caretakers, and everyday residents in the community. The collaboration relies not only on the local photographer’s creative approaches to their work but also their intimacy with and first-hand experience of the places they are photographing.

Several photographer/site pairings have already been identified:

Watch Site: Hitis (Water Fountains) of the Kathmandu Valley (Nepal)
Photographer: Prasiit Sthapit
In the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, an extensive system of historic water distribution points and underground channels (hitis) needs mapping and maintenance to provide Kathmandu Valley communities with reliable access to clean water.

Through photographs, oral histories, and other documents, Kathmandu-based visual storyteller Prasiit Sthapit will explore the rich mythology and complex narratives of the hitis network and surrounding communities.


Watch Site: Yanacancha-Huaquis Cultural Landscape (Peru)
Photographer: Victor Zea

The cultural landscape of Yanacancha-Huaquis in Peru is home to an ancient pre-Inca water system where management and sustainable tourism planning are crucial for an Andean community to adapt to climate change and provide local economic benefit.

Focusing on water as an element that unites the archaeological center and the stories of the region’s inhabitants, Cusco-based documentary photographer Victor Zea will develop a series of family portraits focused on the transmission of knowledge over generations. Zea will incorporate the use of Solarigraphy cameras, a photographic practice based on the observation of the path of the sun.


Watch Site: Heritage Buildings of Beirut (Lebanon)
Photographer: Elsie Haddad
The vibrant coastal city of Beirut, devastated by the blast of August 2020, needs further recovery support to protect and rehabilitate the historic buildings essential to its identity, its residents and neighborhood vitality.

Guided by a hand-drawn map, Elsie Haddad will explore the city’s rich and eclectic identity, interweaving new and archival photos of building, stairs, portraits, abandoned belongings, audio recordings, and soundscapes to create a walking tour of the historic city center, from the port to the Achrafieh hill.


Watch Site: Cultural Landscape of the Bunong Peoples (Cambodia)
Photographer: Pete Pin
The Cultural Landscape of the Bunong Peoples in northeastern Cambodia’s Mondulkiri province includes sites of meaning and memory—ancestral lands, spirit forests, cemetery domains—as well as traditional structures. The documentation of these sites and structures will nurture knowledge transmission and support indigenous Bunong peoples in caring for their land in the face of intense socio-environmental transformations.

Working collaboratively with a group of Bunong youth in Phnom Penh, Cambodian American artist Pete Pin will train them in photography. The Bunong trainees they will then record images on site in Mondulkiri and tell the story of a community's efforts to keep their ancestral knowledge, history and relation to land alive.


Additional projects are in preparation at Kinchela Aboriginal Boys Training Home (Australia) and Garcia Pasture (USA), among others.

While they are two distinct non-profit organizations with separate missions, WMF and Magnum Foundation share a similar goal: to build mutual understanding and empathy while empowering local communities around the world. “World Monuments Fund is thrilled to embark on this pilot project with Magnum Foundation, a remarkable organization with a shared vision,” said Bénédicte de Montlaur, WMF President and CEO. “Our approach reflects WMF and Magnum Foundation’s shared desire to elevate the voices of participants perhaps not always heard from at heritage sites, including designers, builders, caretakers, and everyday residents.”

"Unlike a photographer who may only have days to document a site before moving on to the next assignment, these local artists will be able to develop and deepen their creative projects over time and in collaboration, offering more nuanced perspectives about the uses and meaning of cultural heritage to the community,” said Kristen Lubben, Magnum Foundation Executive Director.


About World Monuments Fund

World Monuments Fund is the leading independent organization devoted to safeguarding the world’s significant cultural places to enrich lives and build mutual understanding. For more than 55 years, working at more than 700 sites in 112 countries, its highly skilled experts have applied proven and effective techniques to the preservation of important architectural and cultural heritage sites around the globe. Through the World Monuments Watch—a biennial, nomination-based program—WMF uses cultural heritage conservation to empower communities and improve human well-being. In partnership with local communities, funders, and governments, WMF seeks to inspire an enduring commitment to stewardship for future generations. Headquartered in New York City, the organization has offices and affiliates worldwide.


About Magnum Foundation
Magnum Foundation expands creativity and diversity in visual storytelling, activating new audiences and ideas through the innovative use of images. Through grant making, mentorship, and creative collaborations, we partner with socially engaged imagemakers exploring new models for storytelling.



Media Contacts

Judith Walker, World Monuments Fund,

Sarah Perlmutter, Magnum Foundation,

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