ABOUT THE OFFICE OF CULTURAL HERITAGE
As mandated by Section 402 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, and amended in 1980 to include foreign properties, the Department of State is required to account for adverse effects on sites inscribed on the World Heritage List outside of the United States or designated by a host nation as historically significant through their own register of cultural properties. It is the duty of State, as well as all other federal agencies, to avoid or mitigate activities that will harm or otherwise reduce the cultural significance of a property in the care of the United States.
Therefore, it is the mandate of the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations Office of Cultural Heritage to ensure that the appropriate considerations are taken to protect properties and collections at the intersection of world cultural heritage and American diplomacy.
U.S. Diplomatic Posts with Historic Properties
Decorative and Fine Arts Items in the Heritage Collection
Posts with Heritage Collection Assets
Cultural Heritage staff undertakes research to determine historical significance and conducts condition assessments to inform treatment recommendations for historic properties and collections. The product of this research is used to guide the future management and care of the portfolio of buildings and objects. Information is also shared with the public through outreach and education opportunities such as those found on this website and through programs like the Secretary of State’s Register for Culturally Significant Property.
CONSERVATION & CARE
Using modern technology and drawing on in-house expertise in historic preservation and fine arts conservation, the Office of Cultural Heritage oversees special projects for diplomatic posts abroad when historic buildings and collections are affected. This requires collaboration with and education for facilities managers, OBO design professionals, and outside contractors to meet required preservation codes and best practices.
The Office of Cultural Heritage regularly works with student groups studying historic preservation by hosting them at a historic embassy abroad for a week of learning and research. This exchange allows for a hands-on experience for young preservation professionals and adds to the knowledge about these properties through the student’s findings and presentations.
Whether for an ambassador’s residence, an embassy, or with a public institution, the Office of Cultural Heritage creates exhibits that showcase American diplomatic history around the world. These exhibits utilized the Department of State’s collection of cultural objects and historic buildings as well as partnerships with public and private institutions through loan programs. While many of these guests are only viewable by invited guests to our overseas properties, the Office of Cultural Heritage seeks to make them accessible to the public.