"Historic Preservation Philosophy and Ethics: Refers to
the underlying philosophy that provides the basis for any preservation
plan; 'why should it be done this way?'"
of Selected Index Terms, National
Trust Library, University
Libraries, University of
Maryland, College Park, Maryland.
"The fact that we cannot give a clear and simple answer
to the question 'Why do we take care of our cultural heritage?'
is a major problem in our conservation work on both a national
and international level. By neglecting to maintain the philosophical
basis for our work as conservationists, we not only place international
co-operation at risk, but also our work involving the cultural
heritage on a national level may cease to be taken seriously
by politicians even in the rich nations of the Western
"The application of all kinds of sophisticated technology
or the re-introduction of traditional craftmen's techniques
are of little use in conservation if we cannot first decide
what we should preserve. And to do that, we need to make use
of words: we must define, we must explain, we must persuade,
we must convince. An object is not part of the cultural heritage
until it is perceived and interpreted as such.
"Attempts to define the cultural heritage fall into three
- Delimiting definitions based on specific categories
of objects and involving an institution able to judge each
- All-inclusive definitions, which fail in that what
is not included at the time can easily be regarded as excluded.
- Potential definitions, again presupposing the existence
of a professional institution to make the necessary evaluations.
There are various reasons for our dilemma, all equally important.
Our cultural heritage possesses a complex of values, all answering
our various needs, yet incapable of being appraised simultaneously,
as they are sometimes in mutual opposition. But the important
thing is we acknowledge the necessity of being able to formulate
our reasons. These fall into four categories:
- Negative reasons based on the situation where the
conservation of the cultural heritage does not happen.
- Paradigmatic reasons involving specific groups in
the population with a strong interest in preserving or strengthening
their own identity.
- Metaphorical reasons relying on the use of parallels
to describe what cannot be expressed in simple terms.
- Utilitarian reasons (the largest and most difficult
group) ranging from regarding ancient buildings as an economic
resource to symbolic and abstract values."
Myklebust, Dag. "Preservation Philosophy The
Basis for Legitimating the Preservation of the Remains of
Old Cultures in a Modern World with New Value Systems". Old Cultures, New Worlds, ICOMOS
8th General Assembly and International Symposium, October
10-15, 1987, US/ICOMOS,
Washington, DC, Vol. II, p.729 (abstract).
"Cultural property consists of individual objects, structures,
or aggregate collections. It is material which has significance
that may be artistic, historic, scientific, religious, or social,
and it is an invaluable and irreplaceable legacy that must be
preserved for future generations."
of Ethics and Standards of Practice, American
Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works,
1999. [Italics added.]
Hawkins, Dominque M., AIA. Historic Structure Reports and
Preservation Plans [download PDF format file],
New Jersey Historic
Preservation Office, pp.26-27.
"PART II. Treatment and Use Treatment Philosophy [1 to
|Statement of recommended treatment
philosophy[s], and boundaries as appropriate, including an
appropriate period significance for the resource
|Advantages and disadvantages of
|Statement of potential impacts
|Rationale for proposed treatment
|Substantiation for treatment philosophy
|Plans or elevations delineating
boundaries of areas of treatment if more than one treatment
R = minimum
recommendations; O = optional elements
In both HSRs and Preservation Plans [PPs], the treatment
philosophy should be a concise statement of the importance
and recommended treatment with substantiation based upon accurate
historical information and existing conditions, and supporting
the interpretive goals of the property if applicable.
This section should also state the potential impacts of the
recommendation and explore the advantages and disadvantages
of alternatives as appropriate to justify the recommendation
All recommendations should maximize retention of historic
character, minimize the loss of historic fabric and meet the
[Secretary of Interior] Standards. Typically, the best recommendations
are those which necessitate the least disturbance of existing
fabric. If dramatic changes are proposed, particularly in
a restoration or reconstruction project, documentation and
physical exploration supporting less invasive recommendations
should be presented.
Specific references should be provided describing how the
remaining features support the recommendation, with references
to existing conditions photographs. In an HSR, the recommended
treatments can include preservation, rehabilitation, restoration,
or reconstruction of an area or feature. A Preservation Plan,
however, usually recommends preservation or rehabilitation
of an area or feature.
Typically, most projects are a combination of treatments
designed to make a property usable for a modern function.
If more than one treatment is recommended for a property,
sufficient information should be provided to substantiate
the recommendation, and the boundaries of each area of treatment
specifically described. Annotated plans or elevations may
be necessary to delineate areas of treatment."
Berkhofer, Robert F. "A Point of View on Viewpoints in
Historical Practice," in A New Philosophy of History,
edited by Frank Ankersmit and Hans Kellner. Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 1995.
Denslagen, Wim. "Restoration Theories, East and West."
Transactions, Association for Studies in the Conservation
of Historic Buildings 18 (1993): 3-7.
Downer, Robert S., Jr, Alexandra Roberts, Harris Francis and
Klara B. Kelley. "Traditional History and Alternative Conceptions
of the Past," in Conserving Culture: A New Discourse
on Heritage, edited by Mary Hufford. Urbana: University
of Illinois Press, 1994.
Earl, John. Building Conservation Philosophy. Dorset,
England: Donhead Publishing
The book is designed especially for students approaching
the subject for the first time but may well be found stimulating
by practitioners. No easy formulae are offered. What conservators,
have to nurture, the author insists, is an inquiring and self-critical
frame of mind enabling them to proceed from comprehensive
knowledge of the buildings for the time being in their care,
via logical argument, to defensible, if not inevitable, solutions.
Fawcett, Jane, ed. The Future of the Past: Attitudes to
Conservation, 1147-1974, New York: Watson-Gupthill Publications,
Fitch, James Marston. "The Philosophy of Restoration:
Williamsburg to the Present." In Evolution of the Restoration
Process: New Directions Symposium. Washington, DC: The American
Architectural Foundation at the Octagon, 1992.
Jokilehto, Jukka Ilmari. "A History of Architectural Conservation:
The Contribution of English, French, German and Italian Thought
Towards an International Approach to the Conservation of Cultural
Property." D.Phil., Thesis, University of York, 1986.
Jokilehto, Jukka. "The Debate on Authenticity." Newsletter,
International Center for the Study of Preservation and Restoration
of Cultural Property 21 (July 1995): 6-8.
Lowe, Setha A. "Cultural Conservation of Place."
In Conserving Culture: A New Discourse on Heritage, edited
by Mary Hufford. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994.
Lowenthal, David and Marcus Binney. Our Past Before Us:
Why Do We Save It? Temple Smith, London, 1981.
Lowenthal, David. The Past is a Foreign Country. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1985.
Madsen, Stephan Tschudi. Restoration and Anti-Restoration:
A Study in English Restoration Philosophy, Universiteforlaget,
Megill, Allan. "Grand Narrative' and the Discipline
of History," in A New Philosophy of History, edited
by Frank Ankersmit and Hans Kellner. Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1995.
Miri, Ali A. Philosophy and Principles of Preservation in
Practice, CRM, No.
7, 200 [Download PDF file from this site.],
National Park Service.
Mondale, Clarence. "Conserving a Problematic Past,"
in Conserving Culture: A New Discourse on Heritage, edited
by Mary Hufford. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994.
Murtagh, William J. Keeping Time: The History and Theory
of Preservation in America. New York: Sterling, 1990.
Parker, Patricia L. "What You Do and How We Think."
Cultural Resource Management Bulletin 16 (special issue
- Traditional Cultural Properties, 1994): 5.
Skarmeas, George Christos. "An Analysis of Architectural
Preservation Theories: From 1790 to 1975." Ph.D. diss.,
University of Pennsylvania, 1983.