Art History

Back to Blog September 28, 2016

The UN General Assembly Promotes Cultural Heritage Preservation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Author: Jane DeRose Evans
panel discussion at Metropolitan on Cultural Heritage Awareness

Elizabeth Bolman, Professor and Chair of the Department of Art History, joined three other specialists on September 20, 2016 at an event co-hosted by the United States Department of State and the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the United Nations General Assembly. It was held in the Grace Rainey Auditorium and the Temple of Dendur wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The panel discussion was on "Today's Struggles to Protect and Preserve the Cultural Heritage of Religious Minorities." The Vice President of the United States Joe Biden, the President of the Republic of France Francois Hollande, and the Director General of UNESCO Irina Bokova, among others, spoke as well.


Bolman and her colleagues in cultural heritage preservation gave short presentations on their own work to preserve monuments created by religious minorities, and then engaged in a panel discussion and responded to questions from the audience. Bolman presented her work over the last twenty years to help conserve, document, study and publish historic Egyptian Christian churches. This is the fourth year that the US Department of State and the MMA have invited members of the UN General Assembly to an event at the museum. Cultural heritage preservation is currently a matter of grave concern internationally, as political extremists destroy monuments as part of their campaign to erase history. Director General Bokova spoke compellingly to the audience about what she has termed "cultural genocide," warning of the grave implications of destroying historical monuments. Vice President Biden and President Hollande expressed their commitments to helping preserve cultural heritage internationally. President Hollande announced a new $100 million dollar fund to help combat attacks on cultural heritage.