Cultural and Historic Losses in the World: 2024 List

Reflecting on 2024’s cultural losses to honor their legacy and advocate for heritage preservation, ensuring these losses spur renewed commitment to safeguarding our global cultural heritage

This post lists losses covered by cultural media assets. The list may not be complete, as the focus and approach to classifying cultural heritage can differ profoundly from context to context, making it more problematic to retrieve information on the most significant events that have occurred around the world.

Transfiguration Cathedral in Odesa after Russian missile attack (Mkip.gov.ua, CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

January, 1 – Roman Shukhevych Memorial Museum (Lviv, Ukraine).

The Museum of Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) in Lviv, dedicated to Corporal Roman Shukhevych, was completely destroyed by a drone attack.

January, 1 – Japan’s Noto Peninsula Earthquake

The Earthquake that hit the Noto Peninsula in Japan has caused the death of dozen of people. Moreover, 20 cases of damage to important cultural heritage buidings and artefacts have been reported , like the damages to the national treasure Zuiryuji Temple in Takaoka City.

January, 5 – Fire at Industrial Archaeology Site in New Jersey

A fire on January 5, 2024, swept through the Singer Sewing Industrial Site in Elizabeth, New Jersey. More than 100 firefighters from New York City and northern New Jersey battled the fire that engulfed five industrial buildings at the historic complex. This site, dating back to the late 19th century, once was the main complex for Singer sewing machine production and played a crucial role in wartime manufacturing.

January – Ukraine and Gaza Strip conflicts

Since the beginning of 2024, cultural heritage in Ukraine and in the Gaza Strip has continued to suffer serious damage. In both conflicts, the list of buildings damaged or destroyed grew. For Ukraine, you can consult the internet page dedicated to cultural sites in Ukraine verified by UNESCO, while as regards the Gaza Strip, the UNESCO website has published a page with the assessments carried out not directly, given the difficulty of accessing to damaged buildings or structures.

January, 23 – Fire at the Georgia Central Exhibition Hall in Sukhumi

The Central Exhibition Hall in Sukhumi, Abkhazia’s capital, known for showcasing artworks by local and international artists, was devastated by a fire. The incident, which occurred on January 21, resulted in the destruction of thousands of artworks and has been described as a significant setback to the cultural heritage of the separatist Georgian region. The cause remains unknown. Acting Minister of Culture, Dinara Smyr, lamented the loss, stating that it feels like everything has been destroyed and emphasized the irreplaceable nature of the damage to Abkhazia’s national culture. The gallery’s collection, estimated at 4,000 pieces, suffered from poor storage conditions, being unprotected and cramped into small rooms and narrow halls, as reported by Abkhaz World.

January, 25 – Fire in Patagonians UNESCO Site

Since January 25th, a segment of Argentina’s expansive Los Alerces National Park, named after the indigenous Fitzroya tree, also known as the Patagonian cypress, with towering heights of up to 60 meters, has been ablaze.

February – Wildlands Fires Damage Valparaiso Heritage Towns

An interface fire has caused the deaths of dozens of people since February 4. The city is known for the area being part of the UNESCO world heritage site. More here.

February, 6 – Fire Destroys Oldest Resort in Minnesota

A fire originating from electrical outlets destroyed the 140-year-old wooden structure of the Lutsen Resort. In fact, after the fire of 1949, the resort was completely rebuilt respecting the design of the original structure in 1952.

February, 16 – A fire destroys important works of art on paper in Seattle

On the night between February 16th and 17th, a fire probably originating from the outside of a gallery in Seattle spread inside the building, destroying or damaging hundreds of paper works, some of which date back to the seventeenth century. More here.

February, 17 – Sze Yup Temp in Sidney severely damaged by a fire

The Sze Yup Temple (Chinese: 悉尼四邑關帝廟), a 150-year-old heritage-listed and Taoist  temple in Sidney has been severely damaged by a fire found by the first responders found in the upper level of the building. The fire has destroyed also the interior decorations and decorative timber works.