AMBASSADOR GALT: Thank you very much, I am delighted to be here this afternoon.
Let me thank especially the staff of the Center for Cultural Heritage and Modern Art Gallery for making this evening possible.
The U.S. Embassy appreciates the opportunity we have had to partner with these two outstanding institutions.
Our modest financial support came from a fund that U.S. ambassadors around the world love, because it carries our name. It is called the “Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation”.
And the reason U.S. ambassadors love this program is because we have the opportunity to propose funding for worthy projects in our host countries.
So in deciding to purpose this project to reclaim so many fire damaged national artistic treasures for Mongolia, I think you would agree that this was the right choice.
Since the program was created by the U.S. Congress a decade ago, the Ambassadors Fund Cultural Preservation has provided financial support to more than 800 projects in more than 120 countries.
The selection process is highly competitive and I am very proud that over the last seven years Mongolian institutions and NGOs have competed successfully for 14 Ambassador’s Fund projects.
These grants to Mongolia have supported a wide range of activities designed to preserve ancient deer stones, to document the sites of monasteries destroyed during the 1930s, and to preserve the works of the “Lama of the Gobi,” who two centuries ago wrote timeless poetry and produced astonishing theatrical spectacles.
More recently, Mongolia received one of the largest Ambassador’s Fund projects ever — 1.17 billion tugriks (586,000 USD) to help preserve and protect Amarbayasgalant Monastery in Selenge Aimag, one of the architectural treasures of Mongolia.
Altogether, the Ambassador’s Fund contribution to cultural preservation in Mongolia total nearly 2 billion tugriks (1 million USD).
For more than a century, the Mongolian Modern Art Gallery has exhibited unique and priceless paintings, sculptures, and handicrafts produced by Mongolian artists.
We shared the sorrow of all Mongolians in 2008 when fire damaged and destroyed so many important works.
I am so delighted to be here today to see a good number of those works fully restore and back where they belong — on display in a great gallery for all Mongolians to see.
In all this project has given 170 important works back to the Mongolian people. And I would also like to thanks to the Center for Cultural Heritage, which was essential in the successful completion of this project.
So, I am honored to be with you today to mark the opening of this wonderful exhibit which at the same time represents the closing of a project that made it possible.
I look forward to continued engagement in cultural preservation activities with Mongolia in the coming years.
Thank you very much.