4.2.2 Heritage issues and policies
The Law on the Preservation of Cultural Assets (NN 69/99, NN 151/03; NN 157/03, Amend., NN 87/09, NN 88/10, NN 61/11, NN 25/12) states that every monument must have an owner and that licences will be granted for restoration and conservation work. Application of this Law is continuously monitored and improved. However, it seems that in practice private owners and investment partnerships are not trusted. The number of well-presented and well-managed archaeological sites has been growing.
Special provisions in the Law are made with regard to immaterial cultural heritage. On the initiative and in agreement with the Croatian Commission for UNESCO in 2002, a special Committee for Immaterial Cultural Heritage was established. Croatia ratified the Convention for the Protection of Immaterial Cultural Heritage in 2007, and the Ministry was established as a central body for its enforcement. The aforementioned Committee was re-established by the Minister's Decree in 2007, and now has 20 expert members. The list of protected immaterial cultural goods currently contains 111 units, eleven of which were included in the UNESCO list of protected immaterial cultural goods, and one item included in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.
Although the Law on Archive Material and Archives (NN 105/97, NN 64/00, NN 65/09) has made it possible for units of local administration and self-government to found archives, and also provides for new independent private archives (founded by companies, universities, political parties, religious organisations, the media and so on), there has not been any marked interest in their establishment nor have conditions been created for founding public archives outside the existing state and private system. In the past four years, branches of state archives have been established in three cities, as well as a new archival institution – Memorial-Documentation Centre on the Homeland war.
The network of public libraries is not evenly spread over the Croatian territory. Due to the different levels of information technology development and availability, different library systems are in use. The Ministry of Culture and local authorities are investing in the improvement of the library system. In the past six years, 33 cities have opened either new or newly restored libraries as joint investments between local authorities and the Ministry of Culture. The library information system in Zagreb has been fully centralised at the city level. A new University Library was opened in Split on 19th December 2008 to complement the network of national university libraries. The new library was also opened at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Zagreb on 11th March 2009.
The war in Croatia and the transition processes affected museums in many ways: physical damage, destruction and theft of museum property, decrease in the number of professional staff and a drastic fall in the number of museum visitors. In 1998, a uniform legal system was introduced, museums became independent (partner-museums), and definitions were given for institutions that could work as museums or care for the movable cultural heritage, for standards of computer networking, supervision over work and professional levels. Holdings were reviewed to establish the number and the condition of items in the museum collections.
The Ministry of Culture has developed a network of 21 local conservation departments that are spread all over the country, and an additional one - The Zagreb City Institute for the Conservation of Cultural and Natural Heritage.
In the last few years a number of museums have been opened (e.g., Museum of Krapina Neanderthals, Narona Museum Vid, Archaeological Museum in Osijek, Novigrad Lapidarium, Museum of Antique Glass in Zadar, etc.). The establishment of new museums (Homeland War Museum Zagreb, Museum of Sacral Art Split, Museum of Croatian Emigration Zagreb, Museum of the VuÄedol Culture, etc.) is planned, but the current economic crisis has postponed some of the projects.
The establishment of the new Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, which was officially opened on the 11th December 2009, is of particular note. About 59 million EUR were invested by the city of Zagreb and the Croatian Ministry of Culture in the building of this museum, which represents the largest cultural investment in the history of independent Croatia. The opening of the Museum as a focal point of contemporary art in Croatia proved to be a much needed cultural venue that actively organises exhibitions, develops art education programmes for children and youth, and provides space for cinema and theatre shows.
While investment in cultural infrastructure is seen by many as very positive, there is also some criticism expressed by those who believe that there is no adequate investment in modernisation and strengthening of the capacities of existing museums. The number of such institutions is high; according to the Registry of Museums, Galleries, Collections in Institutions and Other Legal Entities available at the website of the Ministry there are 146 such institutions in Croatia.
Private initiatives in the cultural infrastructure have to be mentioned. The first private museum "Museum Marton" was opened in 2003 in Samobor and the collection was moved to Zagreb in 2011. Currently it is hosted in the same building with another private initiative – "Museum of Broken Relationships", a permanent exhibition that was opened in October 2010 in Zagreb. The latter already received a number of international awards. Two other private initiatives can also be mentioned as examples: House for Contemporary Art and Culture "Lauba" in Zagreb and the Eco museum and house "Batana" in Rovinj.
One of the greatest weaknesses in the treatment of heritage in Croatia has been the relative neglect of the traditional rural heritage. The interest in old traditions and public resources diminished, while the developmental investment has been concentrated in a limited number of areas thus marginalising others. Rural heritage was however one of the priorities for the programming of EU pre-accession funds in Croatia, which support a professionalised approach to rural heritage.
A National Working Group (set up in 2005) presented the National Programme for Digitalisation of Cultural Heritage (including archives, libraries and museums), which was accepted by the Ministry in September 2006. The Programme was supported by the former Central State Administrative Office for e-Croatia of the Government of the Republic of Croatia (now merged with the Ministry of Administration), and the National Council for the Information Society. The Agreement on cooperation on the implementation of the national project "Croatian cultural heritage" was signed on the 13 March 2007 between the Ministry of Culture, National and University Library in Zagreb, State Archives and Museum Documentation Centre as the leader of the project. This programme aims at improving digitalisation of cultural heritage and includes educational and "operational" components. Special funds were earmarked for this programme in the following years (see: http://www.kultura.hr).
ARHiNET (http://arhinet.arhiv.hr/index.aspx) is a network information system for describing, processing and managing archival material. The Register of Archival Funds and Collections of the Republic of Croatia as the central national register of archival records is an integral part of the ARHiNET system and it enables online access to data on archival records kept in state archives as well as other archives and institutions holding archival materials.
The Strategy of Protection, Conservation and Sustainable Economic Utilisation of Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Croatia (2011-2015) was adopted in July 2011. The Strategy determines aims, measures and activities in order to ensure sustainable management of cultural heritage. An Action plan will be made accordingly.
For more information, see
European Heritage Network: Country profile Croatia