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About Stewardship at Shangri La

In her will, Doris Duke (1912–93) clearly and deliberately expressed her desire to make Shangri La available to scholars, students and others interested in Islamic art. The preservation and care of this artistic and cultural heritage was entrusted to the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art (DDFIA) and falls under the category of Stewardship in DDFIA’s management plan.

Before its public opening in November 2002, a team of staff and consultants was brought together to transform the buildings, site and collections of Shangri La from a private residence to a museum and center for Islamic arts and cultures. The team included curators and conservators, a construction project manager, and preservation architects. Today, work continues to ensure the ongoing preservation of the historic residence and surrounding structures, the historic interiors, and the art and artifacts in the collection.

Stewardship at Shangri La is broadly divided into the following categories:

While stewardship of Shangri La’s core assets—the site, architecture and collections—is managed according to current and widely accepted best practices and standards, Shangri La’s ocean-front location and open-air design create unique preservation challenges, including consistently high humidity and temperature, never-ending insect activity, and a constant misting of marine salts laced with volcanic aerosols.

Shangri La’s team relies on a combination of professional standards and internal documents, which guide the ongoing stewardship practices at Shangri La. These include:

The transformation of Shangri La to a museum and center for Islamic arts and cultures did not end in 2002. As structures age, new displays are prepared, and the use of the collection by scholars is expands, familiar preservation challenges change and new challenges emerge. The actions of and decisions made by the DDFIA with regard to stewardship will continue to evolve with the life of the site.

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