World Day for Audiovisual Heritage 2011

© UNRWA - Baqa Camp, Jordan. 1967. UNRWA Photo and Film Archives of Palestinian Refugees, inscribed on the Memory of the World Register in 2009.

The theme for this year's celebration of the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage 2011 is "Audivisual Heritage: See, Hear, and Learn."

Sound recordings and moving images are extremely vulnerable as they can be quickly and deliberately destroyed. Essentially emblematic of the 20th century, audiovisual heritage can be irretrievably lost as a result of neglect, natural decay and technological obsolescence. Public consciousness of the importance of preservation of these recordings must be engaged and the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage is intended to be the platform for building global awareness.

UNESCO has adopted 27 October as the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage to better focus global attention on the issues at stake, in cooperation with the Co-ordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations (CCAAA) and other partners. A growing number of archives around the world will be commemorating this Day with activities that highlight the fragility and vulnerability of this heritage, while celebrating the work of the heritage institutions that have helped to protect it.

Film, television and radio are our common heritage. They help to maintain the cultural identity of a people but countless documentary treasures have disappeared since the invention of image and sound technologies that permit the peoples of the world to better share their experiences, creativity and knowledge.

All of the world's audiovisual heritage is endangered. No where can it be said to be preserved but through initiatives such as the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage and the Memory of the World Programme, the precious work of preservation professionals is given impetus to manage a range of technical, political, social, financial and other factors that threaten the safeguard of heritage.

UNESCO encourages everyone, everywhere to join us in celebrating 27 October by showcasing their precious collections as part of a global endeavour to promote the value of audiovisual heritage.


UNESCO is celebrating the WDAH

UNESCO Windhoek Office

United Nations. Arrival of a delegation from the United Nations Organisation on the Airport in Windhoek in May 1962. © National Archives of Namibia, Polytechnic of Namibia

The National Archives of Namibia holds a wealth of government, court and private records, spanning from the German colonial administration in Namibia (1884-1915) through the South African administration (1915-1990) to independent Namibia (1990-). Visual, sound and audiovisual records among those are currently being digitalized within the framework of the Digital National Archive Project, in cooperation with the Polytechnic of Namibia and the Utah Valley University.

In an attempt to provide universal access to documentary heritage and to increase awareness of the existence and significance of documentary heritage World Day for Audiovisual Heritage will be celebrated in Tsumkwe (Namibia) by:

  • Showcasing a selection of the John Marshall Ju/’hoan Bushman Film and Video Collection, 1950-2000, which has been inscribed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register;
  • Showcasing a selection of additional sound and film archival material from the National Archives of Namibia;
  • Handing over a selection of photos to the National Archives on The UN 20 years in Namibia.

A selection of digitized photos will also be showcased and the public will be provided with an opportunity to contribute towards missing metadata in the travelling exhibition.

The exhibition will run in the Tsumkwe Community Library from 27 October 2011 to 4 November 2011. The official opening will be attended by dignitaries from the Regional Council and National Archives of Namibia.

UNESCO Kathmandu Office

© Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation / Scene from Fritz Lang's film "Metropolis" (Germany, 1927)

UNESCO Kathmandu Office will celebrate the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage on 17 October 2011 at the Patan Museum Courtyard (a World Heritage Site in Lalitpur, Nepal), by an open-air screening of Metropolis, the 1927 film by Fritz Lang which is listed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World international register. The screening is open to everyone and will be publicly advertised.

Metropolis was selected to be screened in Kathmandu as it is an outstanding example of audiovisual heritage. Being a silent film with only short intertitles, Metropolis is more easily accessible to all language groups than most modern movies. Metropolis was also the first film to be inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World register in 2001. The Memory of the World Programme was established in 1992 to preserve and promote documentary heritage, much of it endangered, as this heritage is as important for the preservation of cultures and humanity’s cultural diversity as are the monuments inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. An integral part of the programme is the MOW register that lists documentary heritage of world significance and outstanding universal value. Nepal is yet to submit documents to the register.

This event is intended to raise awareness of the importance of audiovisual documents as integral part of national identities and the world's memory, and to draw attention to the urgent need to safeguard them. It will also be the occasion to introduce the Memory of the World register in Nepal.

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Other Organizations/Institutions celebrating the WDAH

The Danish Cinematheque

The Danish Cinematheque is screening three Asta Nielsen movies this month. The films screened are:

  • Die weissen Rosen
  • Die geliebte Roswolskys
  • Balletdanserinden

>> See extended description (in Danish) on the Danish Film Institute


Follow the other celebrations on the Official website for the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage 2011. 


Official website for the WDAH 2011


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