Over 350 leaders from around the world gathered in Chiang Mai, Thailand, to attend this conference organized by the Getty Conservation Institute, the Asia Society, and the Siam Society. The conference participants included representatives from cultural authorities, international organizations, corporations, tourism authorities, and interested members of the public who considered appropriate courses of action to preserve the cultural heritage of Asia. Participants discussed the urgent need to shape effective policies for the preservation of the architectural heritage of Asia in the context of the rapid economic development of the region. An important goal of the gathering was to bring together scholars, government policymakers, private developers, and tourism officials to exchange ideas and to begin creating a framework for more coordinated preservation efforts.

Architectural and archaeological conservation in Asia during the new millennium were considered in plenary sessions, discussion groups, and keynote addresses. A session addressing preservation policy in Asia evaluated the possibility of an ideal balance between modernization and the preservation of natural and cultural monuments. Another session addressed problems associated with cultural tourism and monuments, considering the interaction between nature and the built environment; although in ideal circumstances cultural tourism supports the preservation of cultural heritage, both the needs of the community and the protection of monuments are of concern. A third session covered the important issue of vernacular architecture and colonial legacy, challenging many existing assumptions. A fourth session considered public and private partnerships, and a fifth threats to heritage sites.

The final site management session examined the Endangered Heritage Program of the World Monuments Fund, concluding that there is not one but many solutions to the multiple challenges before the worldwide conservation community. Consistent with the recognition that conservation is the management of change, participants called for active declarations from governments to establish the precepts articulated in the conference, and noted that the relationship among constituents need not be adversarial since all concerned recognize the richness of our common past.

Related Getty Publications

Related articles in Conservation, the GCI Newsletter