Lessons from Across the Globe for US Historic Preservation in its Second 50 Years
In 1966, the seminal report With Heritage So Rich issued a call to action to respond to the rising tide of destruction of the nation’s patrimony. The result was enactment of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA), the foundation of the current national historic preservation program. The drafting of With Heritage So Rich was preceded by a search for international precedents to guide the develop of a new national approach to historic preservation in the US. Indeed, the drafters of With Heritage So Rich, known as the Rains Committee, first toured eight European countries to examine other national approaches. Many of these same Americans were also involved with the 1964 Second International Congress of Architects and Technicians of Historic Monuments, whose Venice Charter also influenced the new U.S. model of historic preservation.
Fifty years later, the preservation movement in the United States has much to celebrate. Yet we also face new and urgent challenges and opportunities unheard of in 1966. What can and should U.S. preservation law and federal programs look like for the next 50 years? Just as the Rains Committee sought out the best international examples of historic preservation law, policy and practice when it crafted the NHPA, so too should we gather and consider case studies in preservation excellence across the globe. To this end, US/ICOMOS, in collaboration with the U.S. Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), is conducting a Virtual Rains Committee International Tour to solicit short essays describing interesting and useful approaches to heritage law, policy, program strategy, and related preservation challenges from abroad that can help point the way to innovations in U.S. heritage practice over the next 50 years.
We seek your assistance in submitting short descriptions of ideas that are already in practice and working in countries across the globe. All promising examples are welcome. Ideas for models from other countries could include but are not limited to:
• Preservation as a tool for sustainable development
• Addressing the challenges of climate change adaptation and resilience
• Democratizing preservation
• Promoting inclusiveness
• Ideas of authenticity, significance and integrity
• Rethinking established preservation processes and systems
• Civic engagement
• Uses of indigenous knowledge and practices
• Landscape scale preservation law and initiatives
• Interlinkage of natural and cultural heritage resources
• Community-based valuation of heritage resources
To learn more about the opportunities and challenges facing preservation in the United States, read this statement from the ACHP.
Please submit your personal information and a short description (no more than 300 words) of your international (i.e. non-U.S.) example of preservation excellence below by Friday, April 22, 2016. Approximately eight ideas will be selected based on these short descriptions. Contributors whose ideas are selected will then be invited to develop their contribution into a 1,500 word essay. If we select your idea, we will notify you on or around May 9, 2016. In addition to a 1,500 word essay, contributors will also need to submit 2-3 explanatory images or illustrations, if appropriate. The final essay must be completed and submitted by June 13, 2016. Contributing essayists will receive a $1,000 stipend upon final approval of their essays.
Essays will be used by the ACHP to develop policy recommendations that can be transmitted to the next Presidential Administration and Congress. They will also be published in a short booklet entitled “With a World of Heritage So Rich: Lessons from Across the Globe for U.S. Historic Preservation in its Second 50 years.” The ACHP and US/ICOMOS reserve the right to publish or otherwise distribute the essays in whole or in part.
The Rains Committee toured Europe in the fall of 1965 examining preservation practices in Austria, Czechoslovakia, France, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and West Germany. One of the delegation leaders was Senator Edmund S. Muskie of Maine, who can be seen in this archival photo of the Rains Committee trip (facing row, fourth from the right). Photograph courtesy of the family of Robert R. Garvey, Jr., F.US/ICOMOS.
With Heritage So Rich, published within months of the Rains Committee’s return from Europe, recommended a strong national policy of historic preservation, in notable ways not unlike those found in the countries the Committee visited. Pictured here are Senator Muskie and (with back to camera), National Park Service Director George B. Hartzog, Jr. In the background is Mr. Casey Ireland, Counsel to the House Committee on Banking. Photo courtesy of the family of Robert R. Garvey, Jr., F.US/ICOMOS.