Document Type



Cultural heritage (historic buildings, landscapes, and natural monuments) is being threatened by all manner of evils--attacks by belligerents seeking military advantages, increased consumptive uses, and significantly, the idiosyncratic effects of climate change. Climate change portends sea level rise and coastal erosion threats that will inundate coastal areas and the historic structures located there. Melting permafrost and changes in soil composition threaten the loss of buried archaeological evidence and compromise the integrity of ancient buildings designed for a less malevolent climate.

State and local governments have been undertaking measures to build sustainable communities to mitigate the coming changes in the climate, by limits on the volume and siting of new construction, building green infrastructure, growing renewable energy sources, and by relocating populations from climate-sensitive areas. As with measures to protect populations from the effects of storm surges, heat and flooding, the preservation of cultural heritage may also require barriers, fortifications, and strict enforcement of maintenance requirements. But as sea levels rise and as the next superstorm looms, protection of cultural heritage may require its relocation, that is, preservation ex situ.

This article explores the challenges of ex situ preservation of historic monuments--the fact of immovability, the fragility of aging structures, and the importance of locational context for historic and cultural value--suggesting that preservation may mean seeing our monuments from a different vantage.