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World Heritage Dream List

 
 
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Author Jonas Bergmann
Partaker
#31 | Posted: 20 Oct 2021 15:00 | Edited by: Jonas Bergmann 
Before going to the next case some explanatory words.
1. Going to the next case does not mean that all interested people are not any longer allowed to give their comments to already discussed former cases. Be free to do so.
2. Anybody who is interested to ask his own cases is also invited to do so. Although I have around 90 cases I wish to be discussed I don't think that I have all interesting aspects of a (improved) WHS dream list included. But I would prefer discussing general, more thematic aspects first and specfic aspects more related to one site later.

Author Jonas Bergmann
Partaker
#32 | Posted: 20 Oct 2021 15:08 
Case No. 3: Zoos

Explanation: Different WHS contain also historic zoos, but there is only one zoo included still running: Schönbrunn (Austria). Do the fellow member of Worldheritagesite think that zoos are so important that there should be a second, still existing one on the dream list? I would support so. We have several botanical gardens on the list so there is no reason not to have another zoo. They also fullfill an important role in keeping the natural heritage of the world and show ths historic development of the relations of humans to animals.
But which one? I think as main criterias it has to contain a lot of species from all over the world and should also be able to show the historic development of zoos and their buildings since at least the second half of the 19th century. As possible proposals came to my mind: Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes (Paris), Berliner Zoologischer Garten and London Zoo.

Questions:
1. Should there be a second, still existing zoo on the WHS list?
2. If so, which one?

Author jonathanfr
Partaker
#33 | Posted: 21 Oct 2021 18:44 
Jonas Bergmann:
Questions:
1. Should there be a second, still existing zoo on the WHS list?
2. If so, which one?

https://www.worldheritagesite.org/connection/Historical+zoos

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#34 | Posted: 22 Oct 2021 02:53 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Jonas Bergmann:
Different WHS contain also historic zoos, but there is only one zoo included still running: Schönbrunn (Austria). Do the fellow member of Worldheritagesite think that zoos are so important that there should be a second, still existing one on the dream list?

You are not getting a lot of takers on this subject! At the risk of this forum becoming a dialogue I post my views below – not a waste of my time as I have found benefit from "organising" my thoughts on what is an interesting matter.

a. The development and current format of the "Zoo" over the last couple of centuries says a lot about changing cultural attitudes towards "nature" and the World beyond our localities. Their development from "menageries" operated as playthings for royalty through to public amenities with the mixed objectives of providing "democratic" leisure destinations featuring "exotic" interest and fun for kids, together with education and scientific knowledge-gathering roles (but often with an implied superior "attitude" towards both "Nature" and the countries from where the exhibits came) is well worth understanding and, possibly, preserving.

b. In a number of respects, however, doing so raises the same contemporary problems as are raised by Musea trying to present artefacts collected from around the world in a different era whose current "presentation" is at best "old fashioned" and at worst insulting! Zoos continue to operate in an uncomfortable zone between acceptance of their educational and scientific worth and complete rejection of the need to keep any wild creature for display purposes. If preservation or scientific research requires some to be kept in captivity, is a public zoo in a country thousands of miles from their natural habitat the best place to do so (possibly I suppose given the political instability and extent of poaching in many areas of the World - but even then there are alternatives to the classic city centre zoo)?

c. The era of the "Noah's Ark" type of city centre zoo containing a few representatives of almost every living creature has surely had its day. Perhaps such institutions can continue, but specialising in fewer smaller creatures without lions, bears and gorillas caged for public display? Everyone has plenty of opportunity nowadays to "see" creatures in their natural habitats via documentaries and web cams. The lucky "few" in terms of World population of course have the chance to see them "in the wild" and that itself is becoming a problem as more and more can afford to do so and the "wild" is itself becoming a "zoo". I am aware that I have been "privileged" in this respect having seen most iconic mega-fauna and many non "mega" fauna in their natural habitat in an era before doing so reached disturbing proportions. But I don't think that even the need to restrict numbers of people visiting "wild" destinations would justify a return to the classic "Zoo".

d. I am not a denizen of Zoos. I have always regarded visiting one in "city x" as being, to some extent, an admission that city x doesn't have enough of interest to justify being there any longer! I last visited London Zoo over 70 years ago when it still had "Chimpanzee Tea Parties". The one exception I remember is a visit to Beijing zoo in 1978 - this was something of an "adventure" at a time when there were almost no tourists in China and I remember being royally treated by keepers who took me to the back of the Panda area.

e. I fully accept that the physical and architectural aspects of a "zoo" could justify preservation as tangible representations of the cultural attitudes of a bygone era as we do for many other types of building. The problem is - would such preserved sites still require the animals?? A preserved TB hospital doesn't require the patients or a preserved prison its inmates! The problem of course is the economics of not having animals - or at least not many of them. Where is the money going to come from to preserve a large city centre area full of empty Polar Bear enclosures!!! Perhaps "Heritage Zoos" could place more emphasis on presenting the history of their structures even if those structures do not any more contain the particular creatures they were designed for? But - what else can you use a Polar Bear enclosure for??

f. Regarding the Zoo in Schönbrunn. I don't regard it having been inscribed to cover the potential OUV of Zoos per se. It is a small, almost incidental, part of a larger, and different, case. Although it continues as a public zoo, it would seem, from reading about it, to represent at most the "menagerie" period of zoos, albeit modernised to some degree. In terms of WHS it would of course be possible for it to be nominated separately a second time either on its own or as part of a serial site designed to represent the wider heritage OUV of "Zoos" – there are several examples on the List of this being done for other categories of site. None of the other historic, but "non operating", zoos within our "Connection" contain much (or any) zoo "infrastructure" to represent the potential tangible heritage value of "Zoos".

g. I have briefly read about both London and the Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes. Each has its significant "heritage" aspects. The latter provides a nice contained area with much of the layout and some structures remaining from earlier eras and without the problem of the mega fauna. Does it add much to the Menagerie aspect also covered by Schönbrunn? I am sure France would say "Yes"!! The former covers a larger area, houses a wider range of animals and contains a range of structures from a longer period (These are quite nicely listed here). Some of the structures seem likely to be(come?) "outdated" in terms of their current use but are surely worth preserving. Regarding its OUV compared with other zoos - I try to avoid making such potentially "nationalistic" evaluations! I have looked at other zoos – Berlin, NYC, Beijing, San Diego etc and, whilst many of them are no doubt great zoos for seeing the animals, they don't seem to have the "heritage value" of the other 2. They may of course include the one which should be chosen if one was to try to identify the "best" example of a zoo operating to the standards of 2021......but, come 2051, that also will probaby seem outdated - if it has survived unchanged.

h. My conclusions – The changing cultural role of Zoos is worth understanding and preserving even if one doesn't want to visit them. If one was to study this history in situ then both London and the Jardin des Plantes would seem to be at the top of the list for visiting. Despite this, I personally see no need to inscribe any as WHS - but that may be due to my somewhat jaundiced view of the scheme and its apparently never ending expansion! But, if it came down to a Zoo or yet another mine or winemaking area, I would have to choose the Zoo!!

Author Jonas Bergmann
Partaker
#35 | Posted: 22 Oct 2021 07:59 | Edited by: Jonas Bergmann 
Solivagant:
You are not getting a lot of takers on this subject!

Yes that is the danger. But wait till such an interesting WHS will be discussed like the 4 WHS related to the wooden churches in the Carpathians. Which of the churches should be included in a merged and reduced WHS if there should be a WHS at all? I am experiencing trillions of enthusiastic answers.

Yes. It should not be a zoo of the royals and rulers but a more "democratic" one of the last 200 years.

I have been aware that Schönbrunn zoo is only a sidekick to the castle (another reason for another zoo on the list), has not been important for inscrption and following the concept of a menagerie but compared to other historical ones pre 1789 it is still running so that it is able to see the development.

Solivagant:
London and the Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes

Thank you for the link. I think there are more still existing historic structures in London Zoo then in Paris or in Berlin so it is easier to get an impression of the historic development. But Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire has also to be included in this WHS as an expression for a changing concept of how to present larger animals. I also have the feeling that in Paris if inscribing the zoo one has to include also the nearby Jardin des Plantes: It's one area that can't be understood and valued by just inscribing one part.
But this is the first case where I will definitely do a change on my list: from Berlin Zoo to London Zoo considering the WHS rules that the movable content or collection of a site (in this case animals) does not count to define its value. Thank you, Solivagant.

Author Jonas Bergmann
Partaker
#36 | Posted: 22 Oct 2021 16:47 
Case No. 4: Museums

Preface: In this case an institution/a building is called a "museum" if it presents a collection brought from other places to it for the purpose of being shown to the public. Therefore the case of in-situ museums (e.g. like Plantin-Moretus) is not part of the discussion.

Explanation: In his review about WHS Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro Hubert wrote: "The museums don't really count, the collections are movable and thus do not contribute to the OUV." I stick to this basic WHS rule although I think it is discussable. Therefore I will skip the Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro from my dream list because I have the deep impression that all the parts of the inscription outside of the three museums (Museo del Prado - Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza - Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía) are just used to cover up the main reason for this site: Get the museums and their collections on the list.

But I will put two other museums on the list:
1. Guggenheim-Museum Bilbao (self-explaining)
2. Schloss Ambras (Austria) for including (probably) the oldest still existing building constructed specifically for a museum's purpose in the world

Additionally other museum will be included as parts of larger ensembles which have their own OUV and are not used to cover up the collection of museums to get inscribed:
1. Museums of the Smithonian Institute as part of the National Mall (Washington)
2. Metropolitan Museum of Art and American Museum of Natural History as part of Central Park (New York)
3. National Museum as part of New Delhi

Good luck for a museum and its collection to be in a fitting environment. What a pity for - among others - e.g. British Museum or Palace Museum Taipei!

Question: Are there any opposing or confirming opinions to my proposed decisions?

Author Colvin
Partaker
#37 | Posted: 22 Oct 2021 17:24 
For the concept of museum ensembles, I'm perfectly fine with having Museuminsel in Berlin already on the list; I'm not sure more would need to be added (though I appreciate the nod to the Smithsonian on your dream list).

Incidentally, while the Guggenheim in Bilbao is very recognizable, if it were ever to be inscribed, I'd expect it to be in a potential Gehry serial nomination for modern architecture, rather than for its role as a museum of modern art.

Author Assif
Partaker
#38 | Posted: 23 Oct 2021 03:13 
We have a connection:
https://www.worldheritagesite.org/connection/Museum+History

Salzburg is missing with its Wunderkammer.

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#39 | Posted: 23 Oct 2021 04:45 | Edited by: Solivagant 
I agree with Colvin that Museumsinsel adequately covers the domain of "grand purpose-built all encompassing museums". Out of interest I have checked the Nomination File and AB Evaluation for what is said in the Comparative Analysis – very little in fact (they wouldn't get away with such a thin section now!). The Louvre is dismissed as not being purpose-built and the British Museum for not being in the same place as the other London museums (presumably the Kensington group)

I think I am correct in stating that there is only 1 "purpose built" museum on the current T List in its own right - the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The T List Description on the UNESCO Web site tries (at great length!) to make a case for it but, IMO, fails totally. It makes much of it being the first purpose built museum in N Africa etc etc. Perhaps they are trying to find a role for it once the new museum at Giza is opened (now scheduled for Nov 2022)! It surely can't justify inscription - but I can just "see" in my mind's eye the WHC discussions which would take place about it, even after an ICOMOS rejection. The Arab bloc and colleagues would fulminate about the unequal treatment of non "European" museums etc etc ...and the rejection would be overturned!

One thought I would add to this discussion is that of the place of "Open Air Museums". These are an important type of exhibit which is not really represented by sites like Museumsinsel. I have checked to see if any such museum is included within any existing WHS and note that the open air museum on Kizhi island is only situated in the buffer zone of Kizhi Pogost. The obvious "best" candidate is the original "Skansen" in Stockholm which has even become the generic word for this type of museum. Every building has of course been transported there - which might cause problems with UNESCO rules - but, as I have indicated earlier, I am not really partaking in this discussion seriously to identify further WHS inscriptions but rather to consider the wider question of "best of breed" within various domains.

As Assif has pointed out, we have a connection which already identifies a number of WHS containing musea developed on the early "Cabinet of Curiosity" principle - is there a need for another? I don't know enough about Schloss Ambras to say if it should overtake any of them – though it would seem to have primacy on the basis of date of foundation, that shouldn't be the sole (or even main?) factor. A smaller fine (and "non Royal"!) example is that of the Sir John Soanes museum in London, I don't suggest it as "best of breed" but to recommend a visit by anyone who hasn't done so whilst in London!

You make a point about musea "climbing" on the WHS bandwagon on the basis of being situated within a wider WHS rather than for their intrinsic and specific OUV. If Oxford were ever to be inscribed as WHS (and the city fathers have long made it clear that they are not interested in being so) the List would, en passant, pick up 2 significant historic museums – the Ashmolean and the Pitt-Rivers. Again I don't suggest either as a shoo-in for inclusion in any museum "dream list" – but both should be there for consideration!!

I quote this from the UNESCO Web site "(there are) around 70,000 museums around the world ...(and) around 8,000 museums are said to be located in either cities or sites classified as World Heritage". A number which surprised me (if only because it seems too high a percentage of the World total)! That's an average of around 7 per WHS - which means that many WHS must contain far, far more. Many are specifically related to the archaeological etc site in which they are situated, whilst the others cover a vast range of subjects and types of museum. OK – it can be said that, in such cases, the WHS hasn't been inscribed because of the OUV of the museums within it. But that could be argued. The OUV of a historic city centre derives from the sum total of its contents - and that includes its museums which each contribute to the overall inscribed "fabric". The loss of some would be more significant than the loss of others but their presence is not irrelevant even if not specifically mentioned in the Criteria for inscription.

Author Colvin
Partaker
#40 | Posted: 23 Oct 2021 07:32 
Solivagant:
That's an average of around 7 per WHS - which means that many WHS must contain far, far more.

That tracks for sites like Santo Domingo — I've seen museums for everything from colonial life (the Alcazar, Casa Reales, Naval Museum) to more recent history (the Memorial Museum of the Dominican Republic); from art museums (Quinta Dominica) and children's museums (Museo de Infantil Trampolín) to museums covering niche topics like rum and sugarcane; chocolate; amber; porcelain; and Dominican gastronomy.

Author Jonas Bergmann
Partaker
#41 | Posted: 23 Oct 2021 09:42 | Edited by: Jonas Bergmann 
Solivagant
Solivagant:
One thought I would add to this discussion is that of the place of "Open Air Museums".

I have kept "Open Air Museums" already in my mind, but I wanted to discuss it later because they are often connected with the question of wooden architecture in general and in Russia in special. I think today the best examples of wooden architecture beyond wooden churches are (often) in "Open Air Museums", so there will be a problem with the concept of "non movable" which is one of the cornerstones of WHS inscription rules. Is it possible for you to wait to discuss this aspect later, Solivagant?
But to mention it already now: My dream list we be purged of wooden churches in the same way like overrepresented roman remains, medieval cathedrals (cheers to Naumburg) and monasteries und Mexican colonial towns.

Colvin
Colvin:
Incidentally, while the Guggenheim in Bilbao is very recognizable, if it were ever to be inscribed, I'd expect it to be in a potential Gehry serial nomination for modern architecture, rather than for its role as a museum of modern art.

I think it is a mixture of both reasons for nomination. In one of the following cases I want also to discuss serial nominations of architects and also Gehry will be part of it (strong supporter). But here I mentioned it already in order to show that I am aware of this museum. Besides this is a clear case where it is obvious to everybody that the museums's building is the star and not the collection. So no cover up of the latter.

My opinion regarding Museumsinsel I will point out later in a separate longer entry.

Author Jonas Bergmann
Partaker
#42 | Posted: 23 Oct 2021 11:22 
Two clarifications:
1. Schloss Ambrass follows the concept of "Cabinet of Curiosity", has been built only for this purpose and is still in use for that for more than 400 years now. I can't really see that any other of the sites mentioned in the connection Museum&History can match that OUV.
2. The three proposals I made were because here world class museums I was thinking of are embedded in a setting/environment (National Mall, Central Park, New Delhi) that is strong enough for having OUV alone so that the danger of a WHS only used to cover up the real target (get the collections inscribed) does not exist. I think my strong opposition to the (real) motivation of Prado inscription is why I only mentioned these three. The ones in Oxford would be other cases of course and I think many others too.

Author Colvin
Partaker
#43 | Posted: 23 Oct 2021 13:01 
Jonas Bergmann:
Central Park

I think a strong case could be made for inscribing Central Park for its influence on urban parks. Interestingly enough, though the American Museum of Natural History started off in the park, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art remains on the east side (and both date to the early days of the park), neither is mentioned in the TWHS nomination. I'd be curious to see if they would be included were the site moved forward for review.

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#44 | Posted: 23 Oct 2021 13:16 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Jonas Bergmann:
The three proposals I made were because here world class museums I was thinking of are embedded in a setting/environment (National Mall, Central Park, New Delhi) that is strong enough for having OUV

Regarding the National Museum of India in New Delhi.
Anyone visiting India should take in its fine exhibits - my wife and I gave it an entire day when last in India in Feb 2019 but I don't see it having any particular "value" as a building in its "setting/environment". The building was not a part of Lutyens original plan for New Delhi and was conceived and designed soon after Independence. It was constructed between 1955/60 and its layout and current condition reflects that. I am sure that even patriotic Indians wouldn't claim it to be a wonderful building. It took up a significant spot along the great central axis of Rajpath created by Lutyens near the crossing with Janpath which perhaps justified something "better". ..... and it is to get it in the form of the "Central Vista Redevelopment Project". India is redeveloping the area to create a series of government buildings (including a new Parliament building) appropriate for a country of its size and ambition which has vastly outgrown anything which the British planned for when designing New Delhi. As part of that redevelopment, the Indian National Museum is to be demolished!!! I can't discover what it is to be replaced by - whether a new building or a repurposing of an existing one. This article merely states "The current National Museum will be demolished and relocated.". Here is the Wiki entry for the project

Author Jonas Bergmann
Partaker
#45 | Posted: 23 Oct 2021 14:17 | Edited by: Jonas Bergmann 
Museumsinsel
Maybe a little bit surprising but already before starting the discussion in the forum I decided to skip the Museumsinsel from my dream list.

Explanation
1. There have been earlier examples of a) a modern public museum b) in an urban city center reserved only for arts and science (As a German you don't have to travel around the world, you only have to go to Munich).
2. The general impression of the whole area until recently has been that it missed any impression of being an ensemble (together). There are just buildings next to each other. I can see no consistency, connecting or fitting together. Instead of this they often have been built turned away from each other, like: Please don't enter me if you have been to another museum (now changed for god's sake. In 1990, during my first visit, it has been a terrible experience).
3. Prototype of Art Museum and Prototype of Cultural History Museum? Any proof for this assertion? The AB evalution does not deliver any evidence for that and the fact that at least Schinkel travelled to London and Paris to get an inpression of museums of that time is a rejection of this assertion.
4. Artistic importance? Maybe Altes Museum being a main work of Schinkel and the German classicism. The other ones: No.
5. Visionary Plan? I think in the beginning for Schinkel and King Friedrich Wilhelm IV: Yes. Later I suppose it has been more of a pragmatic looking for solutions for the growing collections in the neighbourhood.
6. After heavily damaged in WWII the complex have been restored and reconstructed again and again and again (also after inscription). With the exception of the facades most of the interior (and the concept of presenting) has nothing to do with the original buildings anymore, if there has ever been an "organic relationship with the collections on display". It is facadism and I don't know how often the different collections had to travel through the different buildings during the times. Authenticity lost. So the development of modern museum design during the 19th and the first half of the 20th century can't be seen any longer. Instead of this all new settings after 1990 followed (had to follow) a completely new developped masterplan. And I have to admit: It's an up-to-date world class museum now. But it has nothing to do with the origins.
7. Is there more OUV if you distribute your collections to different buildings instead of putting them into one like the British Museum? No.
8. To come to a conclusion: Imo another case for "Get the collections inscribed" by inventing of an allegdly existing importance of the buildings and the concept. But in contrast to the Prado ensemble (that is at least somewhat of an ensemble) in 2020, in 1996 the AB has been missing any critical thought in its (indeed very short) evaluation. Furthermore by reading the report one gets the impression, the Pyramids of Gizeh had been going to be inscribed.

But of course the OUV of the collections is without any doubt.

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