Amid multiple Colosseum vandals this summer, visitor limitations introduced at the Acropolis due to overtourism, and a hole drilled straight through the Great Wall of China—causing “irreversible damage”—the question begs to be asked: are we putting our most treasured historic sites in danger with our very presence? Bad actors, damage incurred by constant human traffic through a space, and the effects of climate change on sites are all very different components at play, but in considering how to best preserve earth’s ancient architectural marvels, all must be addressed.
It’s an issue Danielle Willkens
, an architectural historian and architectural designer, has dedicated no small amount of time to. The Georgia Institute of Technology associate professor studies the impact of tourism on heritage sites, which includes both the effects of damage caused over time as well as instances of vandalization brought about by irresponsible guests. Through the Society of Architectural Historians, Willkens secured a traveling fellowship in 2016 to research sites inundated with tourism, which took her around the globe, from Denmark’s Faroe Islands to Cuba. She’s currently working in the cradle of civilization: Petra, Jordan.
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joined SAH in 2007. She was named the 2015 H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellow and received an SAH Membership Grant for Emerging Professionals in 2015 and a Scott Opler Emerging Scholar Fellowship in 2016. She was a session chair at the SAH 2018 Annual International Conference and has served on the H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellowship Committee. She currently serves on the SAH Digital Advisory Committee.
joined SAH in 2001. She received SAH Membership Grants for Emerging Professionals in 2006 and 2009 and has served on the MacDougall Book Award Committee, as a coordinator for SAH Archipedia, as a session chair for the 2015 and 2019 SAH conferences, and as a local co-chair for the SAH 2020 Annual International Conference. She currently serves on the SAH Board and the SAH Nominating Committee.