In Memoriam

Stephan Tschudi-Madsen (1923-2007)

Obituary by Amund Sinding-Larsen, ICOMOS Norway

Born 25.08.1923 in Bergen, Art historian and Riksantikvar (Director General) Dr. Stephan Tschudi-Madsen died on 11 October 2007 in Oslo, Norway

Stephan, a major contributor to ICOMOS, to international cultural heritage activity and founder of ICOMOS Norway, died unexpectedly 84 years old. Active also on the day that was to become his last, he had finalised a number of speeches and lectures for the coming weeks.

As art historian his contributions are well documented through important publications on 19th century European art and architecture, a field of unique speciality being Art Nouveau. Well documented are also his major contributions to the field of cultural heritage management as leading light and captain of Riksantikvaren, the national agency that during his long term as Director General was transformed into the Directorate for Cultural Heritage.
Dr. Tschudi-Madsen put Norway on the world map with early nominations to the UNESCO World Heritage List, first with Bryggen Wharf in Bergen and the mediaeval Urnes stave church, then Røros mining town, all of these timber structures. They were not only the first Nordic nominations, but also the earliest vernacular heritage to be inscribed on the WHL.

Stephan took the initiative to establish ICOMOS Norway in 1977 and served as its first president (1978-1992).
Energetic, warm and bridge-building, as President of the ICOMOS Advisory Committee 1981-1990 Stephan contributed significantly to open this relatively Europe-focused organisation to wider and real international participation. Developing contacts between West- and East Europe during the cold war, he encouraged National Committees from Asia and Africa to be active in international heritage work. During this period, ICOMOS elected its first President from outside Europe, Dr. Roland Silva from Sri Lanka.

Norway's political strategy for international development cooperation in 1982 provided a new range of opportunities to incorporate the cultural dimension in development. Tschudi-Madsen very soon became an enthusiastic pathfinder and pioneer in integrating cultural heritage into Norway's development cooperation activity, taking the initiative to a number of projects in East-Africa and the Middle East. Beginning in Zanzibar Stone town, Lamu, Bagamoyo and then Sanaa in Yemen, NORAD-funded project introduced new ways to handle built heritage projects, built around transfer of responsibility to local expertise and capacity.

Stephan also contributed strongly to focus international light on wooden architecture, on vernacular architecture, on development of ICOMOS international scientific committees, and established as President of ICOMOS Norway the biannual 'International Wood Conservation Course', still run with wide international interest, and participation selected from more than 20 nations, and with financial support from UNESCO.

With Stephan Tschudi-Madsen an unusually generous, multi-talented, focused and warm humanist has passed away. We are greatly indebted to him.

Amund Sinding-Larsen

[click] Biography on Wikipedia

[click] Art Nouveau Symposium Proceedings