ICOMOS International "Journeys to Authenticity" Initiative


There has been much discussion in the heritage field following the devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, this year, on how rebuilding will engage with the concepts of authenticity and integrity. The international debate has been diverse and, of course, ICOMOS members engage in this discourse every day through the decisions they have to make worldwide about diverse conservation projects, large and small.

The ICOMOS Emerging Professionals Working Group (EPWG) is leading a project on behalf of the Advisory Committee to share and promote wide discourse about national, regional, and international interpretations of the different pathways we take with regards to the critical heritage conservation concept of “AUTHENTICITY”. Through this project, all ICOMOS Committees are invited to share current definitions and interpretations of authenticity and integrity as applied to their work, and demonstrated through project examples.


Specific case studies might be used to evoke discussion of the various approaches, definitions, methodologies, and complexities which practitioners and researchers are confronted with in their local projects. Discussion might include projects ranging from seismic retrofit to designing alterations, adaptations, and extensions, repairs and reconstructions, which all involve decision making about impacts on authenticity and integrity. It might include unbuilt (hypothetical) proposals. The EPWG would like to create a platform for open discourse to share these ideas, solutions, and discussions. Formats of communication might include posters, live feeds, blog posts, reports, PPTs, video interviews or presentations, for example.

We hope that the “Journeys to Authenticity” Initiative will be an opportunity for collaboration and mentorship between established ICOMOS members and emerging professionals, enabling intergenerational dialogue about these concepts and encouraging the use of diverse communication media and strategies.
The Advisory Committee Officers and ICOMOS President Toshiyuki Kono warmly support this initiative and encourage all ICOMOS committees to actively engage in this project, collaborating with emerging professionals, with a view to generating a platform for discussion.


We propose the following steps to define how ICOMOS Committees will contribute to the initiative.

Information on this initiative will be presented during various Advisory Committee Sessions in Marrakech, to identify potential approaches for Committees (ADCOM Meeting, Scientific Council Meeting, EPWG Meeting)

Possible questions for discussion include:

  • What are the existing national and regional definitions of authenticity and integrity?
  • To what extent have local definitions or interpretations of authenticity evolved to-date?
  • How are the established definitions of authenticity applied in practical terms in conservation projects?
  • What are the common challenges or complexities?

Please feel free to send us other suggested questions for discussion.


An important aim of this initiative is to expand on the scope and findings of existing discourse, with reference to the following documents:

Document on Authenticity (1994)
Nara +20: On Heritage Practices, Cultural Values, and the Concept of Authenticity (2014)
ICOMOS Documentation Centre Authenticity Reference List


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