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Lithuania/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.2 Heritage issues and policies

The protection of cultural heritage is one of the priority areas and remains one of the pillars of the state's cultural policy. In 1996, the Law on the Basic National Security of Lithuania defined cultural heritage as a national security issue. Lithuanian cultural and natural heritage on the UNESCO List of World Heritage includes the Old City of Vilnius (1994), Curonian Peninsula (Kuršių Nerija, 2000), Archaeological terrain of Kernavė (2004), and Struvė's Geodesic Bend (2005). Lithuanian cross-making (2001), Lithuanian polyphonic songs (sutartinės, in 2010) and the tradition of Song Festivals (together with Latvia and Estonia, 2003) are also included on UNESCO's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The protection of national cultural heritage is provided for by the following legal documents: the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania (articles 42, 47, 54), the Law on the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage (1996, amended 2004), the Law on the Protection of Immovable Culture Heritage (2005), the Law on Protected Territories (2001) and the Law on Planning of Protected Territories (2004).  In 2003 Lithuania signed the UNESCO Convention on Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage. (More on heritage legislation in  chapter 5.2 and  chapter 5.3).

The Department of Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture performs specific functions of the state administration for protection of immovable cultural heritage. It has responsibility for accounting, heritage management and control services as well as territorial divisions. The State Cultural Heritage Commission advises the Seimas, the President of the Republic and the government regarding national policy issues on the protection of immovable cultural heritage. The Commission's goals, administration, functions and financing are defined in the Law on the State Cultural Heritage Commission (2005).

The heritage protection divisions of municipalities perform certain functions for the protection of immovable cultural heritage, set conditions in the territories for protected objects, organise the approval of design documentation and grant the permits to build, reconstruct, repair or demolish the heritage objects in accordance with the procedure laid down by the legal acts of the Republic of Lithuania.

The Ministry of Culture is the founder of important state protected territories, i.e. Trakai historical national park, the State Cultural Reserve of Vilnius Castle and the State Cultural Reserve in Kernavė. The Council of Cultural Heritage functions at the Ministry of Culture as the advisory body for the minister.

Cultural heritage policy comprises a number of interrelated elements: cultural heritage protection, accounting, research, promotion, administration and, legislation. In 2012 the Minister of Culture passed the Resolution on the Guidelines of the National Culture Heritage Protection Policy, which envisagespriorities and directions for the planning and implementation of heritage policy. The document comprises relevant cultural heritage management, protection, tourism activities, and heritage specialist training issues.

Lithuanian Cultural Heritage Digitisation Policy is implemented in accordance with the Lithuanian Cultural Heritage Digitisation Concept and the Strategy for Digitisation of Lithuanian Cultural Heritage, Preservation of and Access to Digital Content (2005). The implementation of digitisation policy is coordinated by the Ministry together with the Ministry of Education and Science, the Information Society Development Committee under the Government and the Office of the Chief Archivist of Lithuania. The Cultural Heritage Digitisation Council performs the functions of an expert and consultant in resolving the issues of formation, implementation and supervision of digitisation policy. In accordance with the Action Plan of the Strategy for Digitisation of Lithuanian Cultural Heritage, Preservation of and Access to Digital Content, in the period 2009-2012, a total of 8 major projects of digitisation and publicising of cultural heritage objects were planned in Lithuania. There are currently 3 million pages of digitised objects: archive files, manuscripts, books, posters, works of fine art, graphics, photography and digitised images of other objects. The web portal www.epaveldas ( offers internet access to the cultural property preserved in the archives, libraries and museums of Lithuania. On the basis of the Strategy, digitisation activities are coordinated on a country level by digitisation centres – Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Art Museum and the Office of the Chief Archivist of Lithuania. In accordance with the Order of the Minister of Culture (2008), the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania represents the state in the European Digital Library EUROPEANA, with a view to ensuring a consistent promotion of the country's cultural heritage and its dissemination in the area of European cultural heritage.

Since 2010, each year the Ministry of Culture, with a view to encouraging the memory institutions to disseminate and promote digitised cultural property, announces a Public Tender of Partial Funding from the State Budget of Projects for Dissemination of Digitised Cultural Heritage. It aims to ensure that the digitised heritage is used in educational processes, for development of the national identity and cultural uniqueness, the enrichment of society's leisure activities, as well as being accessible to a wider circle of the general public.

Lithuania is actively involved in the activities of ICOMOS, ICOM and the European Heritage Heads Forum as well as in the implementation of HEREIN (the European Heritage Network) programme. Moreover, Lithuania continuously develops cooperation with networks and associations specialising in the protection of cultural heritage. Following the decision of the European Parliament and Council to establish a European Union action for the European Heritage Label in 2011, it is also expected that Lithuania will continue its participation with one or two cultural heritage sites in these activities from 2014.

In 2014, there were 4 national and 13 state museums, 58 municipal, 18 departmental and 6 independent and NGO museums in Lithuania (see:

The administration of state museums is performed by the Ministry of Culture. The Museum Council has been established to provide expertise and consultancy services, creating policies and their implementation for Lithuanian museums. Lithuania has also founded the Lithuanian Museum Association and Lithuanian National Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM). In 2007, the government passed the Museum Modernisation Programme (2007-2015),which aims to create proper conditions for museums to collect, keep and promote objects of historical, literary, cultural, artistic, natural, scientific and technical heritage, as well as expanding possibilities for developing knowledge and creativity. The programme foresees modernisation of the present museum material resources, adding new exhibits to museum collections, restoration of museum items (treasures), using updated tools and technologies and ensuring public access to digitalised cultural heritage and information. In 2013 the Ministry of Culture allocated 1 438 000 LTL for modernisation projects of 32 museums. In 2014 the Ministry of Culture drafted The Guidelines of Strategic Development of Museums for the year 2014-2020. It may replace the former Muzeums Modernisation Programme.

The Ministry of Culture is a co-financer of the Lithuanian Integrated Museum Information System (LIMIS) designed for the registry and public presentation of collections kept in museums and prepared by the Lithuanian Art Museum in cooperation with the company AB Alna, as well as the Internet Web pages on Lithuanian museums. The LIMIS programme was completed in 2013.

During the last year new forms of cooperation between heritage institutions and other sectors (tourism agencies, higher schools, local communities, business centres, etc.) emerged. The public institution "Europos Parkas" ("Park of Europe") completed the project of restoration of Liubavas Manor Watermill, situated near Vilnius, and its adaptation to cultural and public needs. The project was supported by a grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Financial Mechanism and co-financed by the Republic of Lithuania. In 2012 Liubavas Manor Watermill Museum was awarded the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award as an excellent example of a fine and sophisticated restoration (see: Vilnius Academy of Arts initiated and established in 2013 the Tourism and Culture Centre in Panemunė Castle in the Jurbarkas district. The Castle, dating from the XVII century, was restored by government, EU Structural Funds and the Academy's financial support and is caters for music festivals, art shows, conferences, students and local community meetings, tourism and leisure needs. 

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

Chapter published: 03-07-2015

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