Voices of the Past Video Netcast: Taj Hotel Artworks, Kate Chopin House salvage operation

As India continues its recovery from the recent terrorist attacks, attention is shifting to the resulting damage to cultural resources. The Taj Hotel was one of the worst-hit locations in the attacks. The hotel is home to more than 2,500 works of art valued in the millions. Among the works confirmed destroyed are a series of three paintings by Maqbul Fida Hussain, who is a significant figure in the Indian modernism. The ninety-three-year-old Hussain says he will begin a news series of paintings for the hotel that condemn the attack. The fate of many of the hotel’s other paintings is still unknown. Heritage resources have not been immune to the downturn in the economy.

State parks are suffering drastic cuts or closing altogether across the country. In his remarks at a governor’s conference in Philadelphia on December second, President-elect Barack Obama acknowledged the risk the bad economy poses to the United States’ heritage resources.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation named California’s State Parks to its annual list of America’s Eleven Most Endangered Historic Places earlier this year when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recommended cuts that would have closed 48 parks. Likewise, New Jersey and Illinois announced high-profile closings in their state parks this year.

A new research project is investigating a new aspect of the Underground Railroad along the Texas-Louisiana border during that region’s colonial era. According to principal investigator Rolonda Teal, her research focuses on Los Adaes, the former capital of Spanish Texas. Teal hopes to have the region recognized as a part of the Network to Freedom program, which promotes and preserves sites that played major roles in the liberation of slaves in the United States.. The program is a partnership of the National Park Service and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

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Recovery work is continuing on the Kate Chopin House in north Louisiana. The National Historic Landmark was destroyed by fire in October. The structure was named for the legendary feminist writer who lived there during the eighteen eighties. It was also home to the Bayou Folk Museum, which contained hundreds of artifacts related to the history of the Cane River region. Joining Garrett in the studio to talk about the recovery and what the significance of the building is Dustin Fuqua. Fuqua is co-founder of the heritage research organization Cultural Lore, which had recently completed an inventory of the museum contents. The inventory was funded by a grant from the Cane River National Heritage Area.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin are taking a closer look at their campus as a cultural landscape. The research began as a grant from the Getty Foundation as part of its Campus Heritage Grant program. The grant is funding a survey of the campuses’ original forty acres, which dates to the 1880s. According to Fran Gale, Director of the UT Architectural Conservation Laboratory, researchers are making valuable discoveries as a result of this project. The recommendations coming out of this survey will be used to recommend methods to preserve and maintain historic buildings on the campus.

Contribute to our report by using the tag “VoicesofthePast” for your online heritage preservation content. We’ll use it for our blog and maybe even report on it in our next show.


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