THE VENICE CHARTER AT FIFTY
A Critical Appraisal of the Venice Charter and Its Legacy
17th Annual US/ICOMOS International Scientific Symposium
2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the Second International Congress of Architects and Technicians of Historic Monuments and the adoption of the International Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites, known today as the Venice Charter. Expanding the concept of universal heritage first set out in 1931 in Athens, the Venice Charter sought to address the growing complexities of cultural heritage, partly in response to a post-war Europe and the expansion of heritage classifications. The Venice Charter attempted to provide a framework for universal value beginning with the fundamental assumption that as material culture, creative works embody various forms of human knowledge. Contemporary conservation practice has long held to the principles of the Venice Charter while also arguing that value and significance are culturally determined, a point also clearly stated in the preamble of the original Venice Charter. In recent decades a number of principles and assumptions in the Venice Charter have been critiqued, adapted and superceded. Social, economic, technological, and cultural changes over the last fifty years demand that we critically examine the Venice Charter and its influences.