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Work Begins at Temple in Ayutthaya

A recent ceremony commemorated the beginning of fieldwork at Wat Chaiwatthanaram, a Buddhist temple in the ancient city of Ayutthaya, Thailand, that has sustained damage in several recent floods. This occasion provided an opportunity to announce an award to WMF from the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation to assist with these conservation efforts. Thai government officials, including the Minister of Culture (center), joined US Ambassador Kristie Kenney (fourth from left) and WMF President Bonnie Burnham (fourth from right) for a site visit. The scope of work includes conditions surveys, the creation of conservation and stabilization plans, and emergency conservation work. 

Still Time to Register for Symposium
WMF, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Preservation Society of Charleston are hosting "Harboring Tourism: A Symposium on Cruise Ships in Historic Port Communities" from February 6 to 8 in Charleston, SC. The symposium will examine various approaches to cruise tourism in historic port communities around the world with the aim of advocating for policies and practices that benefit local communities by ensuring a balance between cruse tourism and heritage management. The symposium is open to participants from around the world and there is still time to register online. The historic center of Charleston is on the 2012 Watch. 

Neutra's Cyclorama Faces Demolition
On January 3, the National Park Service announced its intent to demolish Richard Neutra's renowned 1962 Cyclorama Center to allow for the restoration of the landscape of Pickett's Charge as it appeared on July 3, 1863, in commemoration of the battle's 150th anniversary. The demolition could take place as early as February. The building was designed to house an 1883 painting of the battle by Paul Philippoteaux. Originally proposed by the Park Service in 1999, the demolition triggered a 13-year effort by preservationists, which culminated in a lawsuit compelling the Park Service to undertake a study of alternatives to preserve the building in whole or part. On completion of the study in August 2012, the Park Service determined that none of the alternatives were suitable. The building was listed on the 2006 World Monuments Watch in response to the removal of the Cyclorama painting for installation in a new visitor center completed in 2008. The building has stood empty since that time.
NY Studio School Project Begins

A joint project between WMF and the Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University to produce a conditions survey, material analysis, and treatment plan for Robert Chanler's richly sculpted plaster fireplace and chimney breast in Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney's Greenwich Village studio began on January 7. Five students spent a week taking paint samples of the fireplace, which are being analyzed microscopically at an NYU conservation lab to determine the original color scheme. Combined with the color scheme developed for the studio's ceiling in a similar project undertaken last year by WMF and the University of Pennsylvania, the results of the study and an accompanying historical research paper will be used to develop a budget to restore the entire room. A second workshop will take place in March 2013, with the final report due in the fall.

Ceremony at Angkor Wat

World Monuments Fund celebrated twenty years of work in Cambodia and the completion of the conservation of the Churning of the Sea of Milk Gallery at Angkor Wat with a special commemorative dinner at the famed temple on January 7. Eighty guests dined at the foot of Angkor Wat beneath the illuminated gallery and towers. Honorary guests included His Excellency Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism, His Excellency Son Soubert, Privy Counselor to the King of Cambodia, and His Excellency Ros Borath, Deputy Director General of APSARA. The evening included a rare night-time visit to the gallery.