Have you ever wanted to explore a cultural heritage site in another country, but didn’t know where to start? Now, there’s a platform for that! On World Heritage Day, we invite you to join the U.S. Department of State’s Cultural Heritage Center for a virtual exploration of our heritage preservation projects at sites around the world. Whether you’re a student in Indonesia, a museum curator in Egypt, a teacher in my home state of South Carolina, or an aspiring archaeologist in Argentina, you can now access heritage sites around the world through Google Arts & Culture. We’re excited to partner with Google Arts & Culture so you can explore these sites from anywhere – and perhaps even plan your next travel adventure.
Cultural heritage sites, objects, and traditions are a point of pride for people the world over, but they also require care and vigilance. That’s why the State Department’s Cultural Heritage Center works with governments and organizations to preserve and protect cultural heritage from both natural and human-made threats through the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP). Whether it’s deterioration from years of exposure to the elements, human-made damage from looting, trafficking, and conflict, or the effects of natural disasters and climate change, the AFCP works tirelessly to protect and preserve heritage, and they’ve been doing this work for over 20 years.
Launching for the first time on Google Arts & Culture, the Cultural Heritage Center is sharing examples from over 1,100 Ambassadors Fund projects in 130+ countries. Perhaps you’ll be drawn to learn about the former royal residence of Nepal’s kings, Gaddi Baithak. Damaged in a major earthquake near Kathmandu in 2015, it was restored through funding from the Ambassadors Fund.
Tour the history and ingenuity of Great Zimbabwe (11th–15th century). Today, the World Heritage site is threatened by invasive plants, and the Ambassadors Fund is working on ecological restoration and preservation.
Dive into over 100 new images of sites like a 13th-century mausoleum in Cairo or a Buddhist temple in Thailand. I encourage you to tour the Ambassadors Fund projects that launched on the platform today and consider how to protect heritage in your community.
To discover how people around the world are using technology to protect their cultural sites against climate change, continue exploring heritage sites on Google Arts & Culture with Heritage on the Edge.
And, we’ll add more stories and sites to the platform in the future.
This new partnership aims to make cultural heritage more accessible and highlight the need to protect heritage in all its forms — so keep an eye on the Cultural Heritage Center’s page to experience new stories of unique cultural preservation. You can also engage with us on Twitter at @ECA_AS and @HeritageAtState, and on Instagram at @ExchangeOurWorld.
About the Author: Lee Satterfield is Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), leading the State Department’s global efforts to engage individuals through academic, cultural, professional, sports, and youth exchanges.