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Monumental Decisions: Cultural Stewardship during Polarizing Times
This summer’s news cycles were punctuated by disturbing stories about the removal, cloaking and/or planned relocation of Confederate monuments and statues throughout the north and south. Various actions have led to debates, demonstrations and, unfortunately, violence and potential hate crimes. In the process, established standards for professional and academic stewardship of commemorative structures, objects and artifacts are at risk, as traditional narratives are challenged, if not upended completely. It seems that military history, artistic beauty and politics are locked together in conflict, as symbolism, meaning and intent are questioned, second-guessed and re-appropriated.
Returning from break, the HRC will observe this abyss from what we hope is a safe distance, with a thoughtful discussion facilitated by HRC chair Jack Glassman AIA and longtime committee member Bill Barry. Beginning with a quick summary of the interventions and alterations past civilizations and cultures have imposed on out-of-favor works of art in their midst, we will delve into modern criteria generally used for designation, preservation and maintenance of commemorative monuments and will explore ways that our more controversial statues, monuments and markers can educate, rather than celebrate.
New York Daily News, Sunday, August 20, 2017, Harold Holzer, “War over Confederate statues reveals simple thinking on all sides”; http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/monumental-ignorance-article-1.3424004
Chair of the Historic Resources Committee since mid-2012, Jack Glassman AIA, LEED AP is a Historical Architect with the Northeast Regional Office of the National Park Service, a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Jack’s current repair and preservation projects include a national cemetery in Virginia where Confederate and Union soldiers are buried. A Louisiana native, accomplished architect, thought leader and long-term member of the Historic Resources Committee, William G. Barry is active on a number of local organizations. Formerly the Director of Preservation for John Canning Studios, the Vice President of Preservation & Facilities at Mount Auburn Cemetery and – for 22 years -- a Senior Associate at Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott, Bill now leads Heritage Planning & Design, which provides early strategic thinking and creative planning for historic sites, structures and collections.
To learn more about the Historic Resources Committee, visit architects.org/committees/historic-resources-committee
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