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Despite the positive trend of  support for new museums in recent years, here has been some criticism of less investment in modernisation and strengthening of the capacities of existing museums.


The building of the Academy of Music at the University of Zagreb was inaugurated in 2014 at a cost of approx.28 million EUR.

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Croatia/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

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, NN 136/12, NN 157/13, NN 152/14) states that every monument must have an owner and that licences will be granted for restoration and conservation work. The change of status Application of this Law is continuously monitored and improved. The number of well-presented and well-managed archaeological sites has been growing. The Directorate for the Protection of Cultural Heritage at the Ministry of Culture is responsible for the upholding and update of the Registry of Cultural Assets together with its web portal and GIS enhanced search engine. Cultural assets are registered according to three categories: cultural assets of national importance; preventively protected cultural assets; and protected cultural assets.

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 Intangible Cultural Heritage was established. Croatia ratified the Convention for the Protection of Intangible 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 2011, and now has 7 expert members. The list of protected intangible cultural goods currently contains 139 units, thirteen of which were included in the UNESCO list of protected intangible 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. According to the Archive Registry available at the web site of the Ministry of Culture, in addition to the Croatian State Archive currently there are 17 state archives, as well as an 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 nine years, over thirty 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. The network of university libraries consists of six university libraries and one of them being national and university library. One of the last big investments in libraries was the opening of the new library at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Zagreb in 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. The Croatian Conservation Institute is an important heritage institution founded in 1997 by the Decree of the Government of the Republic of Croatia on a Merger of Public Institutions in the Field of Conservation and Restoration owned by the Republic of Croatia: the Institute for Restoration of Works of Art (founded in 1948) and the Conservation Institute of Croatia (founded in 1966).The main activity of the Croatian Conservation Institute is conservation and restoration of immovable cultural goods (architectural heritage, wall paintings and mosaics, stone sculptures and stucco), movable cultural goods (easel paintings, wooden polychrome sculptures, furniture, art on paper, artworks of leather, items of textile or metal), archaeological heritage, and other objects of cultural, historical or technical significance.

In the last few years a number of new or reconstructed 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, Museum in Vukovar in the Palace Eltz, Museum of Alka in Sinj, Archaeological Museum of Apoksiomenos in Mali Lošinj and a few smaller museums and collections. The Homeland War Museum Zagreb, Museum of Sacral Art Split and the Museum of Croatian Emigration Zagreb are also planned, but the current economic crisis has postponed some of the projects. 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 150 such institutions in Croatia. While investment in cultural infrastructure was seen by many as very positive, there is also some criticism expressed that there is no adequate investment in modernisation and strengthening of the capacities of existing museums. The orientation towards developing of projects for EU funds has started, but still there are no visible results.

Among other big infrastructural investments one has to mention the establishment of the new Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, which opened in 2009, and the inauguration of the new building of the Academy of Music, University of Zagreb in 2014. About 59 million EUR were invested by the City of Zagreb and the Croatian Ministry of Culture in the building of this Museum of Contemporary Art, while the building of the Academy was supported by the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports and the City of Zagreb, to the amount of 210 mil. HRK (approx.28 mil.EUR).

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. Unfortunately, due to the recession the Museum in Zagreb had to be closed in 2013 and the owner returned the collection to the original location in Samobor. The Marton Museum was 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. In spring 2016, the Museum of Broken Relationships conceptualized by Zagreb-based artists was opened in Los Angeles. Two other private initiatives can also be mentioned as examples: House of Contemporary Art and Culture "Lauba" in Zagreb and the Eco museum and house "Batana" in Rovinj. An interesting local community initiative was the opening a museum of local wooden shipbuilding heritage in the municipality of Tisno, in Betina.

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. In recent years more focus has been given to the protection of industrial heritage (e.g. the exhibition of Croatian industrial heritage), which has also been a focus for some EU projects.

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 13th March 2007 for the period of three years between the Ministry of Culture, National and University Library in Zagreb, State Archives and Museum Documentation Centre as the leader of the project. Some of these participants are involved with "Europeana" where the materials digitalised through this project can be found. In summer 2012 the new Council for the project "Croatian cultural heritage" was appointed and the new strategy for digitalisation of cultural heritage is planned. Selected meetings and presentation were held, but no document has yet been created.

ARHiNET ( 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. There are still no indications to when the Action plan could be prepared and adopted although the implementation of the Strategy and Action plan is a prerequisite for effective application of projects to the EU structural funds.

For more information, see
European Heritage Network: Country profile Croatia

Chapter published: 04-05-2017

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