World Heritage Strategy Forum 2016


"There has been a great deal of conflict in our region and many monuments and artifacts representing the achievements of golden eras in our past have been lost as a consequence. Many have been intentionally destroyed in an effort to erase the memory of a time when people of all faiths and origins worked together to create a golden age of scientific, cultural and social achievements.  However, new technologies can literally roll back the clock and restore what the nihilists have damaged.  It is a message to them: everything they are working to erase can be preserved.  Their destruction is as futile as their ideology.  We are delighted to be able to bring together so many people from around the world to collaborate on this important project of historical restoration and preservation."

- His Excellency Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and The Future, Dubai UAE & Managing Director of the Dubai Future Foundation

September 9th - 1:00pm - 5:00pm

September 10th - 9:00am - 6:00pm

September 11th - 10:00am - 6:00pm


Harvard Art Museums, Harvard University

Loeb House, Harvard University

Geological Lecture Hall, Harvard University

Peabody Museum, Harvard University

Museum of Natural History, Harvard University

Semitic Museum, Harvard University 


The Forum

From 9-11 September, 2016, the Institute for Digital Archaeology, with support from the Dubai Future Foundation, will host the World Heritage Strategy Forum at Harvard University in Cambridge Massachusetts. Venues for the meeting include the Peabody, Semitic and Harvard Art Museums, as well as historic Loeb House.  A diverse group of more than forty expert speakers will present talks on a broad range of subjects – from the Venice Charter to Victorian electrotyping to VR experiences of ancient sites, and much more.  The conference sessions will be framed around three core themes:  technical solutions to heritage conservation challenges, legal and policy frameworks for preserving heritage material, and exploring the present-day (and future) relevance of ancient objects and classical texts.  In addition to formal talks, there will be technical demonstrations, panel discussions, hands-on workshops and unstructured sessions designed to promote conversation and fellowship — including receptions at the Peabody Museum and the Semitic Museum. 

Speakers hail from a huge variety of institutions and organizations, including UNESCO, CIPA-ICOMOS, the World Customs Organization, the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (Syria), the World Monuments Fund, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Ashmolean Museum, Harvard University, the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, the New York Public Library, Université de Toulouse, Wellesley College, Boston University, Universitá Iuav di Venezia, the University of South Carolina, the University of Kentucky, the Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology, the National Federation of the Blind, the Dubai Future Foundation, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In combination with the great settings provided by Harvard's magnificent museums, the dynamic program offerings will make for a valuable and memorable experience for participants. The Forum represents an outstanding opportunity to help shape policy around cultural heritage at a pivotal moment in history.

Comments from Participants

"World cultural heritage concerns our collective memory that builds our common past and identity as humans. Events like the World Heritage Strategy Forum at Harvard University are precious moments to find together ways to identify, define, share and preserve this collective memory. World Heritage builds bridges that are important for finding common ground, identities and peace between peoples and nations."

Minna Silver, ICOMOS

"Preserving cultural diversity is a crucial part of our resistance to fear, intolerance and violence. [The World Heritage Strategy Forum] provides a great opportunity to share the experience of the Customs community and highlight the imperative need of joining forces with those who have dedicated themselves to the protection of cultural heritage from looting, trafficking and destruction."

Mariya Polner, World Customs Organization

"The World Heritage Strategy Forum 2016 will bring many different disciplines, perspectives and viewpoints into a big conversation, united by common concern for the study of the ancient world and its literary and cultural heritage. The lineup of speakers and participants suggests the importance and urgency of this conversation."

Dr. Emma Dench, McLean Professor of Ancient and Modern History and the Classics, Harvard University

"The fusion of new digital technologies with broad international determination to resist the destruction of ancient objects has created an extraordinary opportunity for transforming the face of world heritage stewardship. The IDA's upcoming conference could not be better timed to capitalize on this unique moment in history."

Dr. Alexy Karenowska, University of Oxford

"Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, recently said in connection with our reconstruction in Trafalgar Square of Palmyra’s Triumphal Arch that archaeologists have a duty to help rebuild the lost monuments of the Middle East.  I agree wholeheartedly with the Mayor – but would go even further.  Anyone who appreciates the art and architecture that beautifies the great cities of Europe and North America, who appreciates the science and technology that improves our lives or who enjoys the freedoms of representative democracy has a duty to help restore these lost sites.  For in them lies the story of a region in which our collective artistic, scientific and political traditions were born.  These monuments represent the shared history of humanity and stand for a rich and complex past that unites all people.  By rebuilding these structures, we rebuild not only our own national histories, but our connections to each other, as well."

Roger Michel, Executive Director, IDA

Partial List of Speakers and Panelists

Luke Hollis (CAP Morgantina)

Alexy Karenowska (University of Oxford)

Paul Kosmin (Harvard University)

Mary Lefkowitz (Wellesley College)

Julia Lenaghan (Ashmolean Museum)

HSH Principessa Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi (Villa Aurora, Roma)

Peter Der Manuelian (Harvard Semitic Museum)

Giacomo Massari (Torart)

Simon Pax McDowell (Wappato Media House)

Roger Michel (Boston University/Institute for Digital Archaeology)

Mariya Polner (World Customs Organization)

Brian Pope (The Arc/k Project)

Jill Rothstein (New York Public Library)

Salvatore Russo (Università Iuav di Venezia)

Elizabeth Sawyer (University of Oxford)

Brent Seales (University of Kentucky)

Minna Silver (CIPA-ICOMOS)

Koosje Spitz (The Netherlands Commission for UNESCO)

Danielle Thom (Victoria & Albert Museum)

Gilles Tosello (Université de Toulouse Jean-Jaurès)

Joshua Weiss (Abraham Path/Harvard University)

Nigel Wilson (University of Oxford)

Bahadir Yildirim (Sardis Exploration)

Amr Al-Azm (Shawnee State University/Middle East Institute)

Azra Aksamija (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Benno Albrecht  (Università Iuav di Venezia)

Ben Altshuler (University of Oxford)

Joseph Bagley (Boston City Archaeologist)

Frederick Baker (University of Cambridge)

Robert Bevan (author of The Destruction of Memory)

T. Corey Brennan (Rutgers University)

Ward Briggs (University of South Carolina)

Nicholas D. Cahill (University of Wisconsin)

Kathleen Coleman (Harvard University)

Brendan Cormier (Victoria & Albert Museum)

Thomas Curtis (Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani)

Michael Danti (ASOR/CHI)

Emma Dench (Harvard University)

Enrico Dini (DShape)

Chancey Fleet (New York Public Library)

Stephanie Frampton (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Carole Fritz (Université Toulouse)

Clara van Gerven (National Federation for the Blind)

Herb Golder (Boston University)

Barnaby Gunning (Barnaby Gunning Studio)

Lucia Patrizio Gunning (University College London)

World Heritage Strategy Forum Schedule

Please note that all Friday events will take place at Loeb House, 17 Quincy St. Cambridge, MA 02138



As a part of the conference proceedings, the IDA will host the World Premiere screening of Princess of Piombino,  a feature film produced by Corey Brennan and Dena Seidel and directed by Gabriela Elise and Sean Feuer.  ThePrincess of Piombino documents the extraordinary heritage conservation program undertaken by HSH Principessa Rita Bomcompagni Ludovisi at the Villa Aurora in Rome, including the rediscovery and restoration of Caravaggio's only known ceiling painting.  The premiere will feature a Q&A with the Principessa and the film's creative team followed by a reception. 

In tandem with the premiere of Princess of Piombino, there will be a special screening of the short documentaryDestruction of Memory:  the war against culture and the battle to save it.   This extraordinary film documents the destruction of heritage sites by extremists over the past decade and the heroic efforts of individuals and organizations throughout the Middle East to resist this attempted cultural cleansing.  The film will be followed by a panel discussion and open discussion forum with regional stakeholders directly involved in resistance and reconstruction efforts. Robert Bevan, the author of the book The Destruction of Memory on which the film is based, will attend the screening and give a short talk about the production of the film and his own views on cultural heritage preservation. 


Restoration: restoring the past through replication, by Simon Pax McDowell and Mike Chaney (Wappato Media House) & The Guardian. This film follows the Institute of Digital Archaeology's concept, creation and exhibition of the Arch from the ruins of Palmyra, to the marble quarries of Carrara to its unveiling in Trafalgar Square. But this film also broaches the topic of replication authenticity: Can a copy actually evoke the spirit and story of the original?