ICON, Winter 2005
When the World Monuments Fund marked ts fortieth anniversary this past spring, it seemed an ideal time not only to take stock of the current state of affairs but to step back and take in the larger picture, to assess the overall impact of the organization on the field of historic preservation since its launch as the International Fund for Monuments in May 1965. Along with a variety of facts and figures—WMF has carried out 431 preservation projects in 114 countries—what emerged was perhaps of far greater importance.
The extraordinary portfolio of projects carried out over the years spoke to how WM F has honed its ability to respond in the wake of disaster—in Venice following the floods of 1966, in Mexico after the 1985 earthquake, and most recently in war-torn Iraq and in the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast of the United States. The portfolio also revealed the results of decades of investment in the recovery of lost arts and the training of young conservators to meet an ever-increasing demand for preservation work of the highest-possible quality. This issue, published in celebration of our four-decade commitment to the field of preservation, we explore two sites with which the organization has been long associated—Venice, which through some 25 projects has been a primary beneficiary of WMF's time and resources (see page 18), and Angkor, where a 15-year campaign has resulted in the restoration of temples, and more importantly, the training of a new generation of Cambodian conservators and preservation architects (see page 32).
Plagued by rising seas and sinking sediments, Venice continues to present one of the world's great conservation challenges, one that will require ever more vigilance and innovation to address in the years to come. At Angkor, what began as a rescue effort to stabilize and salvage the remains of the ancient city in the wake of war is presenting new challenges in the form of site interpretation and tourism management for the millennium-old site, which now attracts more than a million visitors a year. As our ongoing work at both of these sites illustrates, making a difference often entails staying the course long-term, a capacity that is certain to remain a hallmark of the organization in the years to come.