On 18 April 1982 on the occasion of a symposium organised in ICOMOS Tunisia, which coincided with a meeting of the Bureau in Hammamet, the holding of the International Day for Monuments and Sites to be celebrated simultaneously throughout the world was suggested. This project was approved by the Executive Committee who provided practical suggestions to the National Committees on how to organise 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”.
In Europe, many countries already celebrate the European Heritage Days, organised in September each year under the auspices of the Council of Europe. Nevertheless, a growing number of ICOMOS National and International Committees all over the world are holding special events on the 18th April.
In 2003, where we celebrated the theme of underwater cultural heritage, the following Committees, among other, kept us informed of their initiatives, by sending us reports, posters and press clippings.: Australia (photography exhibition); Egypt (free museum entrance, symposium); Greece (round table discussion, press conference); Guinea (dissemination of information and awareness raising actions for the media and the authorities); Jamaica (press release); Kazakhstan (press articles, round table discussion); Macedonia (meeting, news release and press conference, articles, poster, round table discussion); Malta (seminar, debate); Portugal (opening of an ancient timber treatment centre at the National Centre of Nautical and Underwater Heritage); Czech Republic (Prize giving, exhibition, workshop); Slovakia (news release issued to government, public and press); Slovenia (Dissemination of ICOMOS Charter on Underwater Heritage, conference); Turkey (seminar, visit to an underwater heritage museum, expert meeting, press articles); Uruguay.
The ICOMOS President, Michael Petzet, and the Executive Committee propose that ICOMOS uses the 18th of April for all Committees to jointly draw attention to a particularly endangered type of cultural heritage, in conjunction with the annual Heritage at Risk report. This year it is suggested to put the spotlight on earthen architecture and heritage.
However, each Committee is free to chose the theme(s) it finds most relevant to highlight on this Day.
Below are some suggestions of activities which can be organised nationally 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;
- Organising discussions in cultural-centres, city halls, and other public spaces.
- Exhibitions (photos, paintings, etc)
- Publication of books, post-cards, stamps, posters
- Awarding prizes to organisations 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; organisation 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 favour of strengthening and safeguarding heritage world-wide.
If you are organising meetings, workshops, or other activities to mark the International Day for Monuments and Sites on 18th April, please inform the International Secretariat of such activities and the chosen theme, by sending us any documents and press clippings.
The International Secretariat can also help you by circulating announcements of your activities related to the Day ahead of the 18th April to all the other ICOMOS Committees – just forward the written announcement to us by e-mail.
We look forward to mentioning a selection of National and International Scientific Committee activities in the next issue of the ICOMOS News. Also do not hesitate to send in any suggestions or comments you may have on the principle of this day and ways to celebrate it.