The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina Photo © Boris Magaš
Museum of Lebanon Photo © UNESCO Beirut Office
National Schools of Art of Havana. Photo: Leonardo Finotti

Twentieth Century Society Hosts ‘Keeping It Modern’ Conservation Management Workshop for Getty Foundation grantees

We were delighted to host a group of 22 delegates working on the conservation of ten C20th buildings, who are among the recipients of $1.7 million in architectural conservation grants recently announced by the Getty Foundation as part of their Keeping It Modern initiative.

As well as sharing details of the extraordinary buildings they are working on, the delegates had a crash course on conservation management planning, with lectures, group exercises and site visits. Guided tours of the National Theatre and the Barbican estate gave an opportunity to hear how having a conservation management plan works in practice, both in terms of guidance on regular maintenance and managing change within these complex listed sites.

This is the fifth workshop we have run for Getty Foundation grantees, building an international network – already over 100 strong – of conservation professionals who have come to London to learn about conservation management planning and related issues, such as concrete conservation. All of the workshops have been co-organised with the Getty Conservation Institute whose staff contribute value training experience and content expertise. The workshops are also enriching the C20  foreign tours programme, already leading to a visit to the Rietveld Schröder House in the Netherlands and, next autumn, a trip to Chandigarh in India.

The Getty Foundation grants just announced are dedicated to eleven significant 20th century buildings – delegates at the C20 workshop were involved with nine of the 2018 projects, with three attendees representing a project in Chandigarh awarded a grant last year. The 2018 grants once again span the globe and include the first grants awarded to buildings in Cuba, Lebanon, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and Ireland, as well as well-known landmarks such as the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri.

Since its inception in 2014, Keeping It Modern has supported 54 national and international conservation projects that collectively address the importance of research and planning for the preservation of modern architectural heritage.

The eleven projects selected to receive funding this year include:

“As Keeping It Modern’s international network continues to grow, we have seen grantees increasingly identify themselves with the initiative and the principles it represents,” says Joan Weinstein, acting director of the Getty Foundation. “Chief among them is an emphasis on research and planning, values that have guided the Getty’s funding for decades. We believe that Keeping It Modern projects are setting a new standard.”

Among this year’s projects, the grant for The National Schools of Art of Havana is of particular importance, given the site’s architectural significance. The complex was one of the first major cultural projects to be built in Cuba following the country’s 1959 revolution, but later fell out of favor and was shut down. In addition to a detailed study of the site, the grant includes training opportunities for Cuban conservation professionals to build local support and expertise.

Additionally, the grant for Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer’s Rashid Karami International Fairground in Tripoli, Lebanon highlights the struggle to conserve sites ravaged by war and by decades of neglect. This boldly modernist compound of exhibition pavilions, theatres, museums, and residences was only partially completed before Lebanon’s civil war broke out in 1975 and was left in an incomplete state. A team of distinguished local and international consultants will work on the elaboration of a conservation management plan for this modern complex and explore the possibilities for adaptive reuse that respect Niemeyer’s original vision.

Other projects focus on modern materials and techniques not yet addressed by earlier grants, such as Eero Saarinen’s Gateway Arch in St. Louis, which was built with an ingenious double wall of carbon steel and stainless steel. This year also includes a second grant to the Salk Institute for Biological Studies 3 for the implementation of concrete conservation that will set a new model for this prevalent and challenging modern building material (Salk was previously awarded a conservation planning grant in 2014).

Additionally, the two new grants in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Georgia, together with previous grants in Armenia, Kosovo, Poland, and Russia, have the potential to create a strong network in the region.

The Getty Foundation also recently launched the Keeping It Modern Report Library, which includes completed technical reports from 20 grant projects that are free to download and can be used by practitioners in the field or anyone interested in cultural heritage preservation. As the Getty Foundation learned from grantees and from these reports, common themes among the Keeping It Modern projects include conservation planning to guide sustainable and energy-efficient use of modern buildings, the importance of community engagement to garner support for modern buildings, and the benefits of conservation management plans (CMPs), which help stewards of modern buildings plan for longer-term maintenance and preservation.

“The 2018 Keeping It Modern competition was remarkable for the many strong proposals we received, especially from international applicants,” says Antoine Wilmering, senior program officer for the Getty Foundation. “We have always believed that, for cultural heritage conservation, it is crucial to first understand all the issues before doing any work, and 20th century architecture is no different. After five years of funding, the project outcomes are beginning to have a collective impact as more and more stewards embrace comprehensive planning as the bedrock for responsible preservation of modern buildings.”

Keeping It Modern was developed by the Getty Foundation to complement the Getty Conservation Institute’s Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative (CMAI). Of the 54 Keeping It Modern projects to date, two buildings (including the Salk Institute) are directly related to CMAI.

Deadlines and criteria for the next round of Keeping It Modern applications are available at

For more information see the Getty Foundation website