“Preserving and protecting our global cultural inheritance is a responsibility that we all share. In recent years, we have seen the tragic consequences of neglect and conflict on some of these irreplaceable treasures,” said Ambassador Stuart Holliday, President of Meridian International Center. “Meridian is proud to host and co-present Preservation by Design with Global Heritage Fund to showcase the important work being done by local communities in preserving their cultural legacies for the world.”
Meridian International Center has built global partnerships through leadership exchanges and international collaboration for 50 years. Its Art for Cultural Diplomacy program organizes high-quality exhibitions as educational tools to share aspects of other cultures with audiences in the United States and elements of American culture with people abroad.
Global Heritage Fund’s mission is to save the most significant and endangered cultural heritage sites in developing countries. Carried out through scientific excellence and community involvement, these efforts focus on conservation and responsible growth at key World Heritage Sites. GHF projects are selected using strict criteria and each initiative follows a comprehensive methodology termed Preservation by Design®. There are currently twelve GHF projects in ten countries.
“The GHF-Meridian Exhibition begins a global exhibit tour to showcase the cultural diplomacy and economic benefits from saving endangered archaeological and heritage sites in developing countries. Only by involving local communities in their sustainable preservation, can we hope to save and preserve these priceless treasures for future generations,” said Jeff Morgan, Executive Director of Global Heritage Fund.
To create this exhibition, a series of criteria was developed for the kinds of images each photographer should share, including people-to-people interactions, the tangible benefits of conservation work, and the ways in which problems endemic to each locale are being addressed through the efforts of GHF. The resulting exhibit represents the partners’ efforts to reach out to people from other countries and underscores the importance of cultural diplomacy in laying the foundation for increased global understanding.
Artists represented in Preservation by Design include Wang Xiaodong, a native of Pingyao, China, who is considered the unofficial photographer of this ancient city. Pingyao also is depicted by Luo Yongjin, who, having portrayed great Chinese cities altered by modern construction, focuses on smaller rural centers. Images of the characteristic roundhouses – or “Tulou” – common to Fujian Province were captured by GHF China Heritage Program Manager Kuanghan Li.
Amado Villafane is a member of the indigenous Arhuaco group and his cultural background permits him to candidly portray members of the Tayrona tribe at the remote Colombian site of Ciudad Perdida. Jose Luis “Pepe” Cruzado Coronel is gaining notoriety for his skill in revealing subtleties about Andean peoples and their environs. His photographs of Chavín de Huántar offer a glimpse into the restoration of a major pre-Inca site in Peru.
The extensive temple complex of Hampi in southern India is rendered by Sourav De who seeks to identify cultural continuity from the ancient world while depicting challenges that confront contemporary groups in this rapidly developing country. Cavit Erginsoy, a photographer from Istanbul, has traveled extensively to capture images chronicling ordinary people and his images of Kars shed light on the history and culture of Turkey’s eastern region.
Cyrene, Libya is represented by Serenella Ensoli, head of the Italian Archaeological Mission of the Seconda Università degli Studi in Naples and talented GHF staff photographers. Photographs of Banteay Chhmar, Cambodia are courtesy of GHF.