Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation

  1. Unexploded Ordinance (UXO)
  2. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation

Since its creation by the U.S. Congress in 2001, the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) has provided financial support to more than 800 cultural preservation projects in more than 125 countries. The program shows the depth of our nation’s respect for the cultural heritage of other countries.  Funded projects include technical support for the restoration of historic buildings; assessment and conservation of museum collections; archaeological site preservation; documentation to save threatened traditional crafts; improved storage conditions for archives and manuscripts; recording oral history; and documentation of indigenous languages.

Over more than a decade, the United States has supported numerous projects throughout Laos.  Some of the most notable projects include: the restoration of Wat Xieng Thong and Wat Visoun in Luang Prabang; the  preservation of royal regalia and artifacts at the National Museums in Vientiane and Luang Prabang and the conservation of Buddhist archives.

AFCP Projects in Laos:

The project focuses on preserving ancient mural paintings in the main hall of three Buddhist temples in Savannakhet province: Wat Taleo, Wat Ban Thouad, and Wat Nongbouatha.  These wall paintings depict modern and ancient folk history and culture.  Award: $49,800

The project would strengthen the protection and conservation of the megalithic Jar sites – Plain of Jars in Xiengkhouang province, Lao PDR newest UNESCO World Heritage site. Xiengkhouang province is seeing accelerated development activity and needs assistance developing a complete inventory of the more than 2,100 jars spread around dozens of sites. GIS and documentation per jar and by jar cluster and site must be captured and organized in a centralized database format.  This project emphasizes that the United States shows our respect to Lao culture and sovereignty and to help Laos to pave the way to prosperous future for the Lao people. Award: $129,000

One of Luang Prabang’s oldest temples, Wat Visoun requires treatment to offset decades of neglect. This project, which focuses on the That Pathum (Makmo) stupa, continues work begun under previous Ambassadors Fund grants and directly supports the Embassy’s efforts to portray the United States as a credible partner for the Lao government and its people. Award: $90,150

Though ancient, the musical traditions of ethnic minority communities in Laos are not well known. This project, which involves the documentation of endangered traditional music used in the ceremonies of seven distinct ethnic minority communities, directly supports the U.S. embassy’s efforts to show respect for Lao culture and thereby maintain a constructive environment for broadening bilateral cooperation. Award: $44,856

One Luang Prabang’s oldest temples, Wat Visoun requires treatment to offset decades of neglect. This project continues work begun under a previous Ambassadors Fund grant to conserve the building. Award: $132,000

One of the oldest temples in Luang Prabang and a repository for ethnographic objects since the 1940s, Wat Visoun requires remedial preservation to offset decades of neglect. This project involves the conservation of the temple’s historic roof, one of the largest in the region. Award: $125,000

The archives contain thousands of historic photographs covering 120 years of photography in Laos and historical documents gathered from more than 20 Lao Buddhist monasteries and other collections. This project includes collections storage improvements and the adaption of technical protocols for conservation. Award: $27,845

Many valuable objects in the museum’s collections are not on display for reasons of security and insufficient training for museum staff. The project involves exhibition space upgrades and conservation training for museum staff. Award: $49,878

In this final phase of the Wat Xieng Thong project, the World Heritage Office in Luang Prabang will restore the remainder of the buildings on the complex, including three ornate chapels, several stupas, monks’ quarters, the drum house, and the funerary carriage house.  Built in 1962, the carriage house contains the relics of King Sisavang Vong and the carriage and coffin that carried his remains to a field near Wat That Luang for his cremation.  Award: $ 325,000.

Building on the success of the 2009 project, this award will be used to protect, conserve and display several important historic objects, including the crowns of Laos’ former kings and other items made by Luang Prabang’s finest artists.  Displaying the objects will facilitate a greater understanding of Luang Prabang history and culture, and will attract audiences to the museum.  Award: $49,878

This award supported the continuation of work begun under a previous Ambassadors Fund grant to restore the 16th-century Wat Xieng Thong monastery in the World Heritage city of Luang Prabang. The coronation temple of generations of Lao kings from the mid-16th century until the dissolution of the monarchy in the 1970s, Wat Xieng Thong required immediate conservation attention to reverse the destructive effects of decades of neglect and increased visitation and use. The project involved the conservation of architectural surfaces of the main temple and the preservation of supporting structures within the complex.  Award: $205,000.

Located at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers in the city of Luang Prabang, Wat Xieng Thong is one of the most important and best known temples in Laos.  It was built in 1560 and has served as the traditional coronation site for Lao kings, as well as the center of numerous annual festivals honoring the Buddha and various folk spirits. This project enabled the Luang Prabang Department of World Heritage to restore the roof and renovate the temple’s many traditional murals and other decorative features. Award: $115,450.

This project allowed the Traditional Arts and Enthnology Centre (TAEC) to document the cultural practices of the Katu ethnic minority group of southern Laos, to promote pride within Katu communities of their heritage, and to support appreciation and preservation of these cultural traditions for future generations. TAEC displayed and disseminated research, photos and artifacts of the Katu in a travelling exhibition, which included interpretive and educational information. Award: $38,360

Constructed between 1512-1515, Wat Visoun is one of the oldest temples in Luang Prabang. It houses one of the largest Buddha icons in town and is a site of worship and festivities for the local Buddhist community. This project enabled Luang Prabang’s Department of Information and Culture to document, conserve, and restore artifacts, as well as improve displays and environmental conditions for the temple’s approximately 120 historic and sacred artifacts dating from the 16th century. Award: $25,000

This project allowed the National Library to expand palm leaf manuscript preservation training to two additional centers in Luang Prabang province and Vientiane municipality. As with the 2008 project, monks and laypeople at both centers received technical training on preservation methods and the use of the Tham script. Award: $10,000

Housed in the former royal palace, the Luang Prabang National Museum presents Laos’s finest collection of art and cultural artifacts. This project enabled staff to undertake an inventory of the museum’s artifacts, provided training in modern conservation techniques, and facilitated needed building repairs and the installation of a security camera system to help protect this valuable collection.  Award: $11,600

This project allowed the National Library to provide palm leaf manuscript preservation training at two centers in Savannakhet and Champassak provinces. Monks and laypeople at both centers received technical training on preservation methods and the use of the Tham script. These manuscripts represent one of the largest collections of cultural heritage in Southeast Asia. Award: $9,000

This project enabled the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (TAEC) to research and document the religious and cultural traditions of the Lanten (Iu Mien) and Yao (Kim Mun) ethnic minority groups of northern Laos, and to promote appreciation and preservation of these cultures for future generations.  Award: $30,126

The Lao National Museum in Vientiane is of great cultural and historical significance.  This grant supported the renovation of storage rooms; provided shelving and materials to protect artifacts awaiting conservation, inventory and display; provided equipment and facilities to properly analyze and clean artifacts; and supported the establishment of a documentation department to catalogue and inventory the collection. Museum staff also received training on the use of the new equipment and international inventory standards. Award: $ 26,821

Ho Phra Keo was built in 1565 and restored in 1936. Its design was inspired by Buddhist temples, although the building never functioned as such. The museum’s collection consists of Buddhist religious art and 7th to 19th century artifacts. This grant supported the inventory of the collection, the addition of interpretive panels for the displays, and the creation of an interactive digital catalogue. Award: $22,000

Vat Sisaket was built by King Chao Anouvong between 1819-1824 as a symbolic gesture of his independence from Bangkok. It was the only temple to survive the 1828-29 sacking of Vientiane by the Siamese. This grant supported on-site, hands-on conservation training workshops to restore the building’s murals and repair the masonry. Award: $16,000

Building on 2001’s efforts to inventory, survey, map, archive and preserve the menhirs of Huaphan Province, this second year of funding supported additional preservation work, as well as the production of educational material, and interpretation signs and displays for the trails and the main road to the sites. Award: $12,400

This project focused on the 10th and 11th century standing stones or menhirs in Laos’ northern Huaphan region which were under threat from a road development project. Funds were used to inventory and survey the Ban Peun Menhir Site, assess the impact of road construction, and create a site management plan. Award: $10,000