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International Observatory for Cultural Heritage

The IOCH is dedicated to all issues relating to the survival protection and conservation of cultural heritage. It is historical, practical, and theoretical. It sponsors and encourages research into the monuments, artifacts, and traditions of the past. It records losses and destruction of international cultural heritage in all media and across all boundaries, and it funds and seeks funding to aid in research on and conservation of treasures at risk—whether from age or location, natural disaster, urban development, conflict, war, or other perils. It is also social, in that it seeks to understand the meaning and value of monuments and objects not only for their value to humanity but also in their local contexts. And it is timely, as it spotlights the political uses and abuses of heritage sites and monuments as well as the exchange, transport, and trafficking of material culture.

At the Italian Academy: The IOCH grows out of the Academy’s long commitment to the understanding of cultural transmission, both close to home and across borders. It was inspired by the successes of our deep commitment to bring together science and the arts, as witnessed by our public interdisciplinary programs, since the beginning of the century. It takes heart from the worldwide professional appreciation of our efforts to understand the place of works of art in society and of the individual and collective responses to it. The IOCH draws together examples of U.S. sponsorship of work in this domain and longstanding Italian expertise and commitment (from the survival of the antique in the Renaissance to that nation’s recent contributions to the protection of monuments in the Near and Middle East).

Mission: The IOCH recognizes the need to conserve all that is meaningful in culture in a time when so much is threatened with the imminent possibility of destruction. It is determined to ensure that all possible instruments are encouraged and mobilized to sustain the meanings of the material remains of culture for the future. To this end, the Academy dedicates its energy to the recording and collection of data on endangered monuments, to the establishment of fellowships in the history of conservation of material culture, and to providing a critical forum for all who already are engaged, or who plan to engage, in areas so critical to our future.

How: Sparking dialogue among scholars in archaeology, art history, and architecture, along with technicians, conservators, and experts in diplomacy, law, and protective services, the IOCH embraces both tangible and intangible cultural heritage, promotes awareness of the multiplicity of cultural expressions, and fosters an inclusive and cross-cultural understanding of heritage preservation, management, and interpretation. This dialogue is expressed in the daily work of our Academy Fellows (featured here below); in the Academy’s exhibitions and conferences (also featured here below); in multi-year projects (also featured here below); and in presentations now being developed: an online exhibition (on the historical treasures of Amatrice, Italy, flattened by recent earthquakes) and a conference (of field reports on the destruction of art and architecture).

Fellows speaking on cultural heritage protection beyond the Academy building:

  • Helen Malko at the Senate Human Rights Caucus on "Destruction of cultural heritage in conflict: promoting accountability and the rule of law" (Sept 22).
  • Helen Malko at Roger Williams University (Oct 3).
  • Camilla Cavicchi at the Italian Embassy/Cultural Institute, Washington, on "Protecting our heritage" (Nov 10).
  • Francesca de Tomasi at the Embassy/Cultural Institute, on "The classical antiquities trade between Italy and the United States, 1861–1939" (Nov 10).
  • Helen Malko: Heritage Wars: The Erasure of History in Iraq and Syria. Colloque international, fondation maison des Sciences de l'homme (Plateforme Violence et sortie violence) (Nov. 27-29)

Observatory Fellows

Observatory Projects

Advanced Program of Ancient History and Art

An international summer course of advanced education created by the Academy and by the University of Rome's H2CU. APAHA trains junior scholars in advanced approaches, with first-hand exposure to archaeology.

Digital Serlio Project

The digitization of Avery Library’s unparalleled holdings of the works of Sebastiano Serlio, on Avery’s website and through the Getty Research Portal.

Weinberg Fellowship

Two to four Fellowships each year, devoted to the understanding and conservation of architecture in any geographic area and period.

Observatory Events

International Observatory for Cultural Heritage
Thu, Apr 20, 2017
5:30 pm
Registration is closed; all walk-ins are welcome. Welcoming Remarks: David Freedberg, Director of the Italian Academy, Columbia University Salvatore Settis is the Academy's Distinguished Visiting... Learn more
International Observatory for Cultural Heritage
Thu, Mar 23, 2017
5:30 pm
Professors Francesco de Angelis (Columbia) and co-director Marco Maiuro (La Sapienza, Rome; Columbia) will present the excavation results, discuss their historical significance, and announce exciting... Learn more
International Observatory for Cultural Heritage
Wed, Feb 8, 2017
5:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Registration is now closed. Please join us, even if you cannot register. Doors will open at 5 PM and available seats will be released at 5:20 PM to walk-ins on a first come, first served basis.... Learn more
Image#1: Rovine Palmyra (Palmyra ruins)
International Observatory for Cultural Heritage
Tue, Oct 18, 2016
6:00 pm
to Tue, Nov 22, 2016, 4:30 pm
Curated by Renato Miracco Massimiliano Gatti presents a stunning record of work: recent images from Syria (Palmyra, Apamea, Resafa) and Iraq (Khorsabad, and the Jerwan site, both near Mosul). The... Learn more