Ann Webster Smith Wins Gazzola Prize

US/ICOMOS is happy to announce that the outstanding dedication of our Chair Emerita Ann Webster Smith to the international advancement of heritage protection was recognized at the 15th ICOMOS General Assembly in Xi’an, China by being awarded the 2005 Gazzola Prize. (Read more about US/ICOMOS at the ICOMOS General Assembly).

Given every three years, the Gazzola Prize is the highest honor conferred by ICOMOS, and for many it is the closest equivalent of a Nobel Prize in Heritage Conservation. The Prize is awarded to an individual or group of individuals who have contributed with distinction to the universal heritage conservation aims and objectives of ICOMOS.

Ms Smith’s nomination was unusual in that, in addition to being nominated by US/ICOMOS, her host National Committee as required, 30 illustrious ICOMOS members from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Venezuela and Zimbabwe joined Ms Smith’s nomination and made it a true universal recognition of her contribution and commitment to international cultural cooperation.

In presenting her merits, the nomination recounts:

“The work and achievements of Ms Smith in fostering a global culture of protection for the cultural heritage of the entire world are so prolific and varied that they defy description. Her unwavering dedication, passion and generosity for ICOMOS, where a large part of her work on behalf of international preservation has taken place, are universally known, almost legendary by now. Because of the many roles that she has played in the organization, she knows ICOMOS, and has helped it from its many perspectives: as a regular member, as an Honorary member, as Secretariat staff, as National Committee president, as coordinator of the International Scientific Committees, and as a member of the Bureau. For three decades Ms Smith has been at the very core of the dreamers and doers who have nurtured ICOMOS to its current maturity. Her commitment to cooperation and teamwork has enlarged our reach, and ushered many to join in building a better organization. Her home was always open to accommodate those passing through, and her apartment often was – and is – the venue to many an impromptu ICOMOS meeting or strategy session.

“Her service to ICOMOS has been uninterrupted for 30 years, and continues to this day, through her active participation in US/ICOMOS and her ongoing advice to any ICOMOS member who seeks it. Her sharp and detailed memory has merged into the corporate memory of ICOMOS, and her impartial use of that vast repository of information has been her tool for steering our growth. A true visionary never fearing change for the sake of improvement, she has conceptualized, supported, championed and enabled numerous cultural programs for international cooperation; influenced major decision-makers towards the preservation ethic; steered private and public funds for the support of international preservation initiatives; mentored dozens of young preservationists into their full professional capacity; and given her unfailing support and assistance to new and young ICOMOS members. She has always made time for nurturing new folks into ICOMOS, seeing their potential and developing their interests for the organization’s benefit and future. She is as active, dedicated, generous and enthusiastic today as she was 30 years ago.”

All of ICOMOS extends its gratitude and warm wishes to Ann. And all members of US/ICOMOS are fortunate for having profited from her generous guidance, tenacity and leadership for over thirty years, and hopefully, for many yet to come.

Established in 1979, the Prize commemorates our first President, Piero Gazzola of Italy, an outstanding personality in the history of heritage conservation, and closely linked to the creation of ICOMOS. Salvador Aceves of Mexico, Cevat Erder of Turkey, Birgitta Hoberg of Sweden, Yukio Nishimura of Japan and Roland Silva of Sri Lanka constituted the distinguished 2005 Gazzola Prize Selection Panel. Messrs Silva and Erder are respectively former recipients of the award in 1999 and 2003.

Directly below are excerpts from Ms. Smith’s worlds of acceptance:

“I am deeply grateful to ICOMOS and its members for the enormous honor you have bestowed upon me in naming me as Gazzola Prize Laureate for 2005.

”Also, may I express my thanks to all of my ICOMOS colleagues who, I am told, supported my candidacy. I would like to express my particular thanks to the Prize Committee for 2005, to Yukio Nishimura, to Birgitta Hoberg, to Cevat Erder and to Roland Silva, the latter two Gazzola Prize winners in their own right, all of them long-time and respected friends and colleagues over many years, and to Salvador Aceves, one of the founding members of ICOMOS at its Constituent Assembly in Warsaw forty years ago. Also, I would like to acknowledge the memory of another American, Dr. Ernest Allen Connally, another Gazzola Prize winner and the mentor who first brought me into the world of ICOMOS 30 years ago.

”Piero Gazzola for whom the prize is named was not only the founder or ICOMOS. He and his long time associate Professor Raymond Lemaire, were the guiding spirits behind the organization and the enunciation of its objectives. Together they and their associates as well as those who have followed them, sought to ensure the preservation and conservation of the monuments and sites, the cultural treasures which make up the heritage of all peoples and in particular to guide those whose daily objective is to ensure that these properties are preserved and enhanced for the enrichment of the minds and lives as well as for the pleasure of society today and that of those who will come after us.

”Piero Gazzola was a much loved man, an inspiration to all those who had the privilege and distinct honor of working with him, his colleagues at home in Italy and his friends and associates at ICOMOS. I came to ICOMOS just as he was leaving but was instantly aware of what an example he provided for his friends and for professionals everywhere. He would be proud to see how the organization has grown and thrived. And I am proud to have played a part in ICOMOS and its work; never quite so proud and pleased as I am by the honor you do me today. Thank you! Thank you all.”

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