BANGKOK.- World Monuments Fund
and the Thai Ministry of Cultures Fine Arts Department are undertaking a two-year project of documentation, conservation, and site-management at Wat Chaiwatthanaram in Ayutthaya, Thailand, to continue its work at the seventeenth-century Buddhist temple, which was affected by the disastrous 2011 floods.
The U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) and the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok awarded $700,000 to this project. It is the largest AFCP grant received by any country in 2013. The award is being presented at a ceremony held at the National Museum in Bangkok today. WMF has also secured support of $347,000 from the Robert W. Wilson Challenge to Conserve Our Heritage for ongoing on-site conservation activities, matching significant commitments from the Thai government.
Wat Chaiwatthanaram has flooded throughout its history, but with even greater frequency and more severely in recent decades. With a prior $131,800 Ambassadors Fund award in 2012, a damage and initial conservation needs assessment was conducted in collaboration with the FAD. Activities undertaken included digital documentation and laser scans, geotechnical investigation, and on-site condition assessments.
Begun in October 2013, the new two-year project will conduct in-depth documentation, materials analysis, and condition surveys for developing appropriate flood mitigation measures, addressing urgent repairs, and developing an appropriate monitoring and conservation program for the temple. This phase of work will provide even greater opportunities for local engagement and international collaborations.
Bonnie Burnham, President of World Monuments Fund, stated: We welcome the support from the U.S. State Department, which allows us to partner with the Thai Ministry of Cultures Fine Arts Department to implement a sustainable solution to prevent further water damage at Wat Chaiwatthanaram. WMF has been aware of the temples plight for a long time, as it appeared on the inaugural World Monuments Watch in 1996, so we are excited to be working with the U.S. Embassy and the Department of Fine Arts to save this heritage site for the people of Thailand and for the many visitors to this remarkable ancient city.
Ayutthaya was the capital of the Thai kingdom for more than four hundred years and a major center of domestic and international trade. It is situated approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Bangkok. Wat Chaiwatthanaram is one of the most important temples in the archaeological park. Positioned outside the city island on the western bank of the Chao Phraya River, it was built in the reign of King Prasat Thong in 1630. Cultural historians identify the temple, commissioned in the traditional Khmer architectural style, as the structure most emblematic of Buddhisms influence on Thai society.