World Monuments Fund: The First Thirty Years

Tracing the origins of World Monuments Fund (WMF) to 1965, this publication explains how James A. Gray, a retired U.S. Army Colonel, created the non-profit, New York-based International Fund for Monuments, the first private organization to focus on the conservation of important buildings, archaeological sites, and works of art on a global scale. Early projects included work at the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, Ethopia, conservation of the statues of Easter Island, and restoration of several important buildings following intense flooding in Venice in 1966. Following Gray’s retirement, Bonnie Burnham took the helm in 1984, at which point the organization was renamed the World Monuments Fund. In addition to new projects in Mexico City and St. Trophime, France, Burnham helped to develop an increasingly close relationship with the Kress Foundation, which sponsored the WMF European Preservation Program in 1987. The late 1980s also saw the establishment of the Jewish Heritage Program. By the early 1990s, WMF was expanding its operations abroad through affiliate organizations, using WMF’s name but independently soliciting funds and selecting projects, engaging the social, economic and political elite of a given country to conserve high profile sites according to the highest professional standards. WMF also established the annual Hadrian Award to recognize leadership in the preservation field, as well as the World Monuments Watch Program, compiling a list of one hundred endangered sites every two years. This publication includes a list of major donors as well as a catalogue of projects completed or in progress as of 1995.

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