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World Monuments Fund Announces 2010 Watch List

October 15, 2009

By Aleksandr Bierig

The World Monuments Fund (WMF) has announced its biannual list of “watch sites”—buildings and landscapes of significant cultural value that, according to the organization, require urgent attention. The WMF states that the sites are selected based on four criteria: “significance, urgency of the situation, viability of proposed actions, and relevance of the issues to the heritage field at large.”

Afghanistan, Old City of Herat
Photo courtesy World Monuments Fund
Afghanistan, Old City of Herat.
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The 2010 list consists of 93 sites located in 47 countries. Of those, 11 are in Africa and the Middle East, 38 in North and South America (with nine in the U.S.), 18 in Asia, and 26 in Europe. Sites represent a range of concerns and scales, from well-known landmarks—Macchu Picchu in Peru or Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin in Wisconsin and Taliesin West in Arizona—to more unusual places, like the rural Chiktan Castle in India, a rammed-earth structure dating from the 16th century. Other sites have political and cultural turmoil in their regions. For instance, the Old City of Herat in Afghanistan, on the list for the second time, is under threat from unchecked development in the area. The Iraqi Al-Habda’ Minaret is in need of structural improvement for its distinctive “hunchback” form.

During a press event at the organization’s New York City headquarters, WMF President Bonnie Burnham spoke of the value of the watch list. It generates publicity for the sites, she said, and often spurs community or government action. Additionally, the WMF assists in fundraising or fund-matching whenever possible, and has raised $50 million for endangered sites since the watch list program began in 1996.

A complete listing of the sites and more information can be found at the organization’s Web site, wmf.org.

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