The Congress of Athens of 1931: Methodological and Technical Contributions for the Conservation of Architectural and Environmental Heritage


The Proceedings of the First International Congress of Architects and Technicians of Historic Monuments, which took place in Athens, from 21 to 30 October 1931, were published in the volume entitled La Conservation des Monuments d’art et d’histoire // The Conservation of artistic and historical Monuments; a volume that represents a fundamental document to improve knowledge on the different aspects of conservation and restoration in Europe in the period between the two World Wars (1918-1940). Thus, it seems appropriate to reexamine the main contributions, which in that occasion were given by prominent European Scholars, also in order to glean useful indications for carrying out conservation, which, today more than ever, is needed to protect architectural and environmental heritage.

Firstly, it should be recalled that the ‘Congress of Athens’ constitutes an important pro-Europe initiative; it was, indeed, promoted by the International Museum Office of the ‘International Institute of Intellectual Co-operation, a body belonging to the ‘League of Nations International’, to whose Assembly the congressional conclusions were in fact submitted.

Another aspect to highlight concerns how the congress works were articulated; it demonstrates the acquired awareness of how it is possible to carry out monument conservation operating based on ‘General doctrines and principles’ (I section) through the juridical and administrative protection, considered as ‘logical deductions from doctrines and principles’ (II section), on one hand, and ‘technical tools’ (IV, V, VI section), on the other, with restoration undertaking to enhance monuments (III section).


restoration of monuments; monument environment; international documentation; technical and moral co-operation

AA.VV. (1933), The Proceedings, edited by the ‘Office international des Musées’, of the Institute for Intellectual Cooperation of Paris, are in: La Conservation des Monuments d'art et d' histoire / The Conservation of artistic & historical Monuments, Paris.

BORSI Franco, PORTOGHESI Paolo (1969), Victor Horta, Rome.

GENOVESE Rosa Anna (1996), La Conferenza di Atene (1931): alcuni contributi metodologici e tecnici, in: GENOVESE Rosa Anna (edited by), Note in materia di Conservazione e Restauro dei monumenti, Arte Tipografica, Napoli, pp. 9-56.

GIOVANNONI Gustavo (1932), La Conferenza internazionale di Atene pel restauro dei monumenti, in «Bollettino d'Arte del Ministero dell'Educazione Nazionale» - Fasc. IX, Rome.

HAUTECOEUR Louis-Eugène-Georges (1932), Conférence internationale d'experts pour la protection et la conservation des monuments d'art et d'histoire, in: «Gazette des Beaux Arts», Paris.

HORTA Victor (1923), Les applications de l’Urbanisme à l’entourage des monuments, Bruxelles.


Published : 2021-12-29

Genovese, R. A. (2021). The Congress of Athens of 1931: Methodological and Technical Contributions for the Conservation of Architectural and Environmental Heritage. Protection of Cultural Heritage, (12), 113-121.

Rosa Anna Genovese
University of Naples ‘Federico II’, Department of Architecture – DiARC  Italy