PBS NewsHour reports on “Culture at Risk” in Nepal in the Wake of the Recent Earthquake

Last month, a massive earthquake struck Nepal, killing thousands and injuring at least 15,000 more. The earthquake also wrought considerable damage to the many religious, cultural and heritage sites throughout the region. Chief correspondent for arts and culture Jeffrey Brown reports on the impact of this damage, and efforts to restore and rebuild the affected sites for PBS NewsHour’s “Culture at Risk” series.

Brown spoke to Christian Manhart, director of the United Nations Office of Cultural Heritage in Kathmandu, as well as Debra Diamond, curator of South and Southeast Asian art at the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington, D.C.

“When I arrived in Nepal,” says Manhart, “I was really struck by the spirituality of the people, by this living culture they still have. They go to the temple every morning to give some offerings. Each temple has its own festivals. And the people are very strongly connected, and it’s part of their daily lives.” Manhart fears that if these tangible cultural sites are not restored, the nation’s intangible heritage will begin to fade as well.

Fortunately, the UN Office of Cultural Heritage in Kathmandu has detailed documentation of the sites as they appeared before the earthquake struck, and Diamond believes that the buildings’ original struts, bricks and other surviving materials can be recycled in the reconstruction process. Nevertheless, rebuilding could take 10 years or more, and will require a huge international aid commitment.

PBS NewsHour’s “Culture at Risk” coverage is funded by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the National Endowment for the Arts. Art Works. View our previous “Culture at Risk” broadcast reports here.

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