THE ORIGIN OF
THE INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR MONUMENTS AND SITES
Ideas on how to celebrate it
On 18 April 1982, on the occasion of a symposium organized by ICOMOS Tunisia and a corresponding meeting of the Bureau in Hammamet, it was suggested that a day be established to celebrate the diversity of heritage throughout the world. From this idea, the International Day for Monuments and Sites was born. This project was approved by the Executive Committee who also provided practical suggestions to the National Committees on how to organize this day.
Last but not least, the idea was also approved by the UNESCO General Conference who passed a resolution at its 22nd session in November 1983 recommending that Member States examine the possibility of declaring 18 April each year “International Monuments and Sites Day”.
While many countries and regions have established heritage days, such as the European Heritage Days celebrated each year in September, the International Day for Monuments and Sites presents an opportunity for all ICOMOS National Committees to advocate their shared cause together on the same day.
At the revival of this day in 2001, ICOMOS President Michael Petzet and the Executive Committee proposed that the 18th of April be used by all Committees to draw attention to a particularly endangered type of cultural heritage in conjunction with the annual Heritage at Risk report. Every year a growing number of ICOMOS National Committees all over the world are holding special events on the 18th April.
However, National Committees should not feel restrained from focusing on additional subjects. While the International focus this year will be placed on Industrial Heritage, an often neglected area and one that is in need of attention; each National Committee is free to choose a theme that is most relevant to highlight the heritage issues in their nation or region.
Below are a number of general suggestions for nationally organized activities to mark this event:
• Visits to monuments and sites, and restoration works, possibly with free admission;
• Articles in newspapers and magazines, as well as television and radio broadcasts;
• Hanging banners in town squares or principal traffic arteries calling attention to the day and the preservation of cultural heritage;
• Inviting local and foreign experts and personalities for conferences and interviews;
• Organizing discussions in cultural-centers, city halls, and other public spaces.
• Exhibitions (photos, paintings, etc)
• Publication of books, post-cards, stamps, posters
• Awarding prizes to organizations or persons who have made an outstanding contribution to the conservation and promotion of cultural heritage or produced an excellent publication on the subject.
• Inaugurate a recently restored monument
• Special awareness raising activities amongst school children and youth
• Promotion of “twinning” opportunities between various National Committees, defining areas for co-operation; exchange of speakers; organization of meetings and seminars, or the editing of joint publications.
• A Scientific Committee could be invited to a country to debate around the chosen theme.
The essential thing is to mark this day so that it becomes not only a day to celebrate your national heritage, but also a day of international solidarity in favor of
strengthening and safeguarding heritage world-wide.