Culture at Risk

Culture at Risk

The Getty is proud to support the "Culture at Risk" series on PBS. "Culture at Risk" looks at foreign and domestic artifacts, artworks, buildings, or whole communities at risk from war, environmental damage, neglect and development. For more information on the series, please see the "Culture at Risk" site on

Latest episode

Internet history is fragile. This archive is making sure it doesn't disappear

What's online doesn't necessarily last forever. Content on the Internet is revised and deleted all the time. Hyperlinks "rot," and with them goes history, lost in space. With that in mind, Brewster Kahle set out to develop the Internet Archive, a digital library with the mission of preserving all the information on the World Wide Web, for all who wish to explore. Jeffrey Brown reports.

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Nashville's storied music spaces threatened with silence

Downtown Nashville has been a backbone of the nation's music industry for more than six decades, giving the nation stars such as Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton. But the increasing demand for new apartments and office buildings is threatening its historic music spaces. Jeffrey Brown reports on the city's struggle to find a balance between preserving history and making room for the future.

International Criminal Court brings a cultural vandal to justice

Four years ago, 16 holy tombs in Timbuktu, dating back to the 14th century, were demolished in an attack by Islamic militants. In the first-ever war crimes trial for cultural destruction, one of the men involved admitted his guilt and voiced regret at the International Criminal Court. Jeffrey Brown talks with DePaul University’s Patty Gerstenblith for more on the challenges of prosecuting these crimes.

Vestiges of an ancient Greek art form, preserved by catastrophe

Fewer than 200 bronze sculptures from the Hellenistic era—a period that began more than 2,000 years ago—survive today. About a quarter of those are gathered in an exhibit called "Power and Pathos," which offers a view into the spread of ancient Greek culture around the world, and the rise of a new art form. Jeffrey Brown reports.

Decades after Florence's great flood, an art hospital renews still-damaged treasures

It's part museum, part workshop, part hospital for threatened treasures. At the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence, Italy, conservators work to restore cultural and artistic masterpieces, some of which still bear the damage of a devastating flood nearly 50 years ago. Jeffrey Brown reports.

The crumbling, picture-perfect Italian town that's making a comeback

There are just seven year-round residents—and who knows how many cats—in the Medieval Italian town of Civita di Bagnoregio, also known as the dying city. The picturesque hilltop town, visited by droves of tourists, is built upon layers of rock and shifting clay, susceptible to weather and natural disaster. Jeffrey Brown reports on efforts to revive and reinforce the city.

Palmyra, where East met West, is symbolic target for Islamic State

Satellite images released by the U.N. confirmed the destruction of the Temple of Bel in Palmyra by Islamic State forces, part of a pattern of targeting ancient sites in Syria and Iraq. Jeffrey Brown talks to Michael Danti of Boston University and Brenton Easter from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement about the losses at Palmyra and how authorities are tackling antiquities smuggling.

Destroyed by ISIS, artifacts may find new life after 3D reconstruction

To date, Islamic State militants have damaged 200 historic sites in the Middle East, according to the United Nations, and destroyed hundreds of artifacts. Now a pair of cyber-archaeologists are trying to put these ruined ancient works back together. NewsHour's Ivette Feliciano reports.

Will development hurt or help Cuba's iconic architecture?

Havana, Cuba, is known as a city frozen in time -- and much of that is attributed to its architecture. However, many old buildings lack plumbing, electricity and infrastructure. Now, with Cuban-American relations improving, will these buildings be renovated, or will an inflow of global businesses ruin the country's unique atmosphere?

How war has robbed Syria of its history

There's a battle being waged for Syria's history, where four years of war have devastated cultural heritage sites and looting occurs by all sides of the conflict. Special correspondent Marcia Biggs reports on the flagrant destruction of relics, the big business of smuggling antiquities and what's being done to stop it.

Destruction of Nepal's temples puts spiritual culture at risk

Since a massive earthquake struck last month, Nepal has been overwhelmed by the unfolding humanitarian crisis, as well as a culture crisis. Home to a rich heritage of art and architecture, the mountainous, remote country has suffered significant damage to its many temples and historic sites. Jeffrey Brown reports on how the physical destruction has deeper implications for Nepal's people.

Bringing Mali's music back from exile

Mali is a country renowned for its music, but in 2012, the music stopped. That year, separatist rebels and Islamic groups seized two-thirds of the country and banned any expression of art. While French and Malian forces drove the Islamists out, much of the north remains unsafe. Jeffrey Brown reports from Bamako and Timbuktu on efforts to restore their rich culture.

What Islamic State gains by destroying antiquities in Iraq

In a violent rampage through a museum in Mosul, Islamic State militants knocked statues to the floor, using sledgehammers and even a jackhammer to reduce ancient artifacts and some replicas -- representing idols that past cultures worshipped -- to rubble. Bernard Haykel of Princeton University and Michael Danti of Boston University join Jeffrey Brown to discuss the significance of the latest video.

Archaeologists in Peru add drones to their list of tools

In Peru, drones are keeping a watchful eye on some ancient cultural sites endangered by encroaching development or other perils. In our Culture at Risk series, Jeffrey Brown reports on how archaeologists and government officials are using the new technology to protect the country’s heritage from above.

Peru shields an ancient city of sand from strong storms

In northern Peru, workers are fortifying the ancient site of Chan Chan, once the largest city in the Americas and the largest adobe city on the world. Earlier this year climatologists predicted strong El Nino weather effects in 2015, threatening rain in a desert climate that rarely gets any. Jeffrey Brown reports on the efforts to preserve and protect Peru’s heritage from the elements.

Protecting Ancient Treasures in Mideast War Zones

Northern Iraq boasts thousands of archaeological sites dating to the beginning of civilization, and they are being destroyed by the Islamic State militants. Meanwhile, more than 3 years of civil war in Syria has laid waste to much of the country's ancient history. In this episode, Jeffrey Brown talks to researchers who are on the frontlines of preservation in the face of war.

Graffiti Art Gives Abandoned Miami Stadium a Second Life

In the early 1960s, a Cuban architect who fled to South Florida designed the Miami Marine Stadium, an ambitious structure that hosted concerts, boat races, religious services and political rallies. But the city decided to abandon the venue when a hurricane ripped through in the early '90s. Since then, graffiti artists have led the way in keeping the cultural landmark alive. Jeffrey Brown reports.

Passing down the passion for preservation with hands-on work

High atop Central Virginia's Shenandoah Mountains, students are continuing work begun 75 years ago when the National Park was originally established. A pilot project from the National Trust for Historic Preservation is bringing a new generation of young civilian workers into the hands-on trade of preserving America's landmarks. Jeffrey Brown reports.

Preserving the cultural treasures of Los Angeles, one block at a time

The city of Los Angeles is constantly reinventing itself. But now, a project called "Survey L.A." is digging beneath the city's layers to identify, catalogue and preserve its diverse cultural history in electronic form. Jeffrey Brown reports on this effort to map the history of a relatively new and rapidly developing city.

Scholar fights archaeological looting in Egypt

In the aftermath of Egypt's 2011 revolution and resulting political turmoil, the nation's treasured antiquities have been increasingly under threat of looting, vandalism and violence. In our series Culture at Risk, Jeffrey Brown examines the emergency facing Egypt's rich archaeological heritage and one scholar's efforts to publicize the problem.

Will development overshadow Myanmar's rich cultural history?

There is no urban landscape like Yangon in the world. Largely isolated from the rest of the world for decades, Myanmar's capital city has been frozen in time, filled with temples and grand buildings from the colonial era. But as the country embraces a more open society, how will it manage to preserve its past while building its future? Chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown reports.

The Detroit Institute of Arts

The Detroit Institute of Arts

In June 2014 the J. Paul Getty Trust awarded a $3 million grant to the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) to ensure that its outstanding collections will continue to be available to the public. In making the grant, the Getty joined with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, for-profit and not-for-profit institutions, and individuals across the nation in supporting the "Grand Bargain" to preserve the DIA and its art in perpetuity.
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