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Major boost for Shackleton Hut funding

28 May 2004

Major boost for Shackleton Hut funding

A US$100,000 grant from American Express announced today from New York, is a valuable boost to ongoing work to conserve the historic Shackleton Hut at Cape Royds, Antarctica.

Christchurch-based Antarctic Heritage Trust Executive Director Nigel Watson said the grant, through the World Monuments Fund, is the first ever to be made to a New Zealand entity.

³The hut was listed as a WMF site last year. That listing, combined with this grant shows the internationally recognised significance of the great explorers huts in Antarctica the Trust is working to conserve.

³This money will be used to remedy immediate threats to the Shackleton Hut, including essential weather proofing and addressing the problems of decaying stores and provisions which are an environmental hazard.

³This work can only be undertaken in the short summer and has to be carried out within the rules that govern activities at Antarctica,² Mr Watson says.

The total estimate for conserving the Shackleton Hut is approximately New Zealand $5 million.

³We still have a long way to go in raising all the money and I hope this grant will spur on other interested parties, including our negotiations with agencies of the British Government,² Mr Watson says.

The Hon Alexandra Shackleton, Ernest Shackleton¹s granddaughter, who is visiting New Zealand at present, also welcomed the news.

³The importance of my grandfather¹s legacy is treasured by many people around the world. This investment by American Express highlights the international recognition of this amazing site,² she says.

The Hon Alexandra Shackleton is supporting the Trust in its fundraising efforts around the world, particularly in Britain.



New York City, May 26, 2004 . . . The World Monuments Fund (WMF) and American Express Company today announced ten endangered historic sites to receive funding through WMF¹s World Monuments Watch program. Since 1996, 135 grants to 110 sites in 59 countries have been awarded $8.5 million by American Express. This year¹s grants to the World Monuments Watch program total $750,000.

Sites selected for funding are: Sir Ernest Shackleton¹s Expedition Hut, Antarctica; The Jesuit Guaraní Missions, Argentina/Brazil/Paraguay; Dampier Rock Art Complex, Australia;

St. John¹s Anglican Church, Canada; Las Peñas, Ecuador; Tomo Port Town, Japan; Bandiagara Cultural Landscape, Mali; Roman Villa at Rabaçal, Portugal; Pazo de San Miguel das Penas, Spain; and the Church of San José, Puerto Rico, United States (see attached descriptions). All were included on the 2004 World Monuments Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites, which is based on nominations by concerned citizens and groups around the world.

American Express is a founding sponsor of WMF¹s World Monuments Watch program, established in 1995 to draw attention to and ensure the preservation of imperiled historic, artistic, and architectural sites worldwide. American Express¹s ten-year, $10 million commitment to this program has enabled WMF to leverage millions of dollars of additional funding from local and national governments, global corporations, foundations, and individuals, and has encouraged new preservation activism worldwide.

WMF President Bonnie Burnham said, ³The World Monuments Watch continues to be an extremely effective response to the urgent need to preserve our built heritage. Funding from founding sponsor American Express continues to be critical to the program¹s success, helping to preserve for future generations sites that are testaments to human achievement. The generous American Express grants are a sterling example of enlightened philanthropy.²

Kenneth I. Chenault, Chairman and CEO of American Express Company, stated, ³Through these cultural landmarks, we are helping to preserve cultures and communities that date back as far as 10,000 B.C. and range geographically from Antarctica to Japan. These sites and monuments are a great source of local pride, and by attracting visitors from around the world they promote a global understanding of our common history and heritage.²

World Monuments Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites Every other year, WMF invites governments and nongovernmental organizations around the world to nominate endangered cultural-heritage sites to the World Monuments Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites. WMF then convenes an independent panel of leaders in the fields of archaeology, architecture, art history, and historic preservation to review the hundreds of nominations and select the most compelling sites with the greatest threats.

Ranging from such widely known landmarks as the Great Wall of China to the lesser-known Erbil Citadel, in Iraq, the World Monuments Watch list reaches across the globe and touches upon virtually every historical era. Each year, American Express selects individual sites from the current list to receive grants.

Since its inception in 1995, the World Monuments Fund¹s Watch program has awarded 354 grants totaling nearly $31 million to aid 177 sites in 72 countries. An estimated $64.3 million more has been leveraged directly to the sites from governments, businesses, individuals, and institutions for an estimated total of nearly $94.1 million, including the grants being announced today.

World Monuments Fund Since 1965, the private, nonprofit World Monuments Fund, an international organization with headquarters in New York City, has been preserving and safeguarding the historic, artistic, and architectural heritage of humankind. Dedicated to preventing the loss or destruction of important cultural treasures throughout the world, WMF has affiliates in France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Through a program of advocacy, fieldwork, technical assistance, grantmaking, and educational programs, it brings public and private support together to safeguard monuments and works of art whose loss or destruction would impoverish humankind.

American Express: Founding Sponsor of the World Monuments Watch Historic preservation has long been a priority of American Express, which, through its philanthropic program, supports initiatives to strengthen local communities and to nurture and develop tourism¹s greatest assets: well-trained people, historic sites and parks, and cultural diversity. Headquartered in New York City, American Express Company ( ) is a diversified worldwide travel, financial, and network services company founded in 1850. * * *


Antarctica, Cape Royds, Ross Island, Sir Ernest Shackleton¹s Expedition Hut (1908)

$100,000 to address environmental hazards and immediate threats. Sir Ernest Shackleton¹s Hut at Cape Royds is one of only a few intact wooden buildings remaining in Antarctica dating from the heroic age of polar exploration. It contains artifacts of the daily life and work of Shackleton and his team. Almost a century of exposure threatens the site, and preparations for its preservation must be made to ensure its future.

Argentina/Brazil/Paraguay, The Jesuit Guaraní Missions (17th century)

$100,000 for conservation, training, and interpretation initiatives. The Society of Jesus founded a series of thirty missions in this region to indoctrinate the Guaraní people. For all of the inadequacy of the Jesuit mission system, it served as a catalyst in preserving Guaraní language and culture. The architecture of the Guaraní missions is a mix of Spanish Baroque forms and indigenous religious symbolism. Abandoned in the mid-18th century, the missions require a comprehensive conservation and site-management program.

Australia, Dampier Archipelago, Dampier Rock Art Complex (10,000 B.C.)

$70,000 for research and conservation. One of the largest concentrations of petroglyphs in the world, the complex contains as many as one million individual images and represents thousands of years of culture. The survey and recording of this vast and unique corpus of Aboriginal art will enable the study and preservation of a precious cultural resource. The site is endangered by the proposed construction of an industrial complex.

Canada, Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, St. John¹s Anglican Church (1754)

$80,000 for the restoration of painted interiors. Designed in 1754 as a simple wooden meeting-house for local citizens, St. John¹s was remade in the Carpenter Gothic style in 1840, and stood as a brilliant example of this type until 2001, when a devastating fire ravaged the building. Although the damage was catastrophic, enough of the building survived to allow for its reconstruction. Historic mural paintings and other decorative elements will be conserved and restored.

Ecuador, Guayaquil, Las Peñas (1750)

$50,000 for the restoration of the house of Antonio Neumane as a museum. Situated in the historic heart of Guayaquil is Las Peñas, renowned as the site of the historic meeting between Simón Bolívar and his revolutionary counterpart, José de San Martín. With the largest concentration of historic houses and structures in the city, the area retains much of its 18th-century colonial character, with wooden houses, winding streets, and traditional plazas. Preservation efforts have been thwarted by a lack of funds and technical assistance.

Japan, Fukuyama, Tomo Port Town (1603­1867)

$100,000 for the restoration and reuse of a merchant¹s house (Old Uoya-Manzo House) as a visitor center and guesthouse. Sited on a dramatic stretch of land between mountain and sea, this Edo-period port retains much of its original character, with townhouses, temples, and shrines lining narrow lanes and paths. Port facilities, such as a lighthouse, docks, and warehouses, provide a window onto Japanese maritime history. Inclusion on the 2002 World Monuments Watch List helped protect Tomo, and it is now possible to begin restoring its buildings.

Mali, Bandiagara, Mopti, Bandiagara Cultural Landscape (3rd century B.C.­19th century A.D.)

$50,000 for a conservation plan and community outreach. A sandstone ridge that rises above parched sands, the 150-kilometer-long Bandiagara Escarpment has been a cultural crossroads for more than 2,000 years. Considered one of West Africa¹s most impressive sites, it has been occupied by settlements of the Toloy, Tellem, and Dogon peoples. Encroachment of the modern world is taking a toll, but the government and the local community are working to protect it for the future.

Portugal, Penela, Coimbra, Roman Villa at Rabaçal (4th century)

$50,000 for mosaic conservation. This villa is perhaps the most important Roman site of ancient Conimbriga and features a series of mosaics whose high-quality motifs and figures are considered unique among other Roman sites in Portugal. Two decades of excavation left the foundations, walls, stucco revetments, and various decorative features exposed to the elements

Spain, Monterroso, Lugo, Galicia, Pazo de San Miguel das Penas (7th­18th century)

$50,000 for the restoration of mural paintings. San Miguel das Penas chronicles twelve centuries of architectural development in Galicia. The oldest portions of the villa, including the great hall, date back to the 7th century. Over time, a church and defensive tower were added to the structure, and during the 18th century the building became a pazo (manor house). It contains the most significant Renaissance mural paintings in Galicia and the only known example of sgraffito decoration in the province. The interiors are threatened by water damage and structural instability.

United States, Puerto Rico, Old San Juan, Church of San José (1523­1532)

$100,000 for structural stabilization and conservation of mural paintings. With its extraordinary ribbed vault system and maritime-themed murals, the Church of San José has been hailed as the oldest surviving and first significant work of architecture in Puerto Rico. The church is also considered one of the earliest extant examples of Gothic-influenced architecture in the New World. The local community actively used it until five years ago, when structural instability forced it to close. Structural stabilization measures begin this summer, and the mural paintings will be restored.


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