The National Library has presented a new project for interactive books.
New innovative instruments apply an integrated approach to management of cultural heritage since 2011.
4.2.2 Heritage issues and policies
At state level, the Sub Directorate-General for Historic Heritage Protection and the Spanish Cultural Heritage Institute are the organisms responsible for heritage policies. Both bodies are in charge of protecting cultural heritage, enriching the state-owned collections, promoting international cooperation related to heritage and restoring works of art and archaeological objects owned by the state, other public administrations or the Church, through a variety of plans, such as the National Cathedrals' Plan, the National Industrial Heritage Plan, the National Castles' Plan and the National World Heritage Plan.
The challenges facing the current heritage policy are basically three, namely:
Two other issues related to the current debate about Spain's cultural heritage are its diversity and the limits of its scope. This is part of an ongoing discussion about the term cultural heritage being extended to new fields such as contemporary history, industrial properties and intangible heritage.
One of the goals of the Ministry of Culture during the last years, and also of the new Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, is to improve the management of historical heritage, and to allow its integration in the knowledge society. The application of digital technologies and, above all, the availability of cultural heritage works to the general public via the Internet were, according to the Minister, the most democratic and economical way to disseminate culture. With this goal, various initiatives have taken place in recent years.
During 2007, the Spanish Ministry of Culture worked to develop the Portal of Spanish Archives, a web-based database for the diffusion of national historical documentary heritage (for more see: http://pares.mcu.es/), and the Virtual Library of Bibliographical Heritage (see: http://bvpb.mcu.es/en/estaticos/contenido.cmd?pagina=estaticos%2Fpresentacion) that allows users to consult a wide range of online documents that form part of Spain's bibliographical heritage. The Virtual Library of Historical Newspapers is another major digitisation project, which participates in Europeana and EuropeanaLocal projects, and, together with other projects (such as Galiciana, the Library of Galicia, or Bivaldi, the Valencian Digital Library, among others) are already available on the net (for more see: http://prensahistorica.mcu.es/en/estaticos/contenido.cmd?pagina=estaticos%2Fpresentacion).
In November 2009, the Museum Libraries Network was initiated and with it the creation of a large online catalogue which allows access to the catalogues of libraries from nineteen state-owned museums (for more see: http://en.bimus.mcu.es/index.html). In 2010, the Spanish Ministry of Culture launched two projects: Hispana, which brings together the digital collections of archives, libraries and museums according to the Open Archives Initiative being promoted by the European Union (for more see: http://hispana.mcu.es/en/inicio/inicio.cmd), and CERES, the online catalogue of the Digital Network of Collections of 74 Museums located in 11 autonomous communities, which offers, for the first time, unified access to cultural assets of Spanish museums (for more see: http://www.mcu.es/museos/MC/CERES/index.html). More recently, in October 2012, the National Library, in collaboration with Telefónica, has presented a project of interactive books with the aim of making culture accessible to everyone.
Beyond the digitisation of cultural heritage, the government has undertaken other initiatives in this area. Thus, in 2007, the Ministry of Culture launched the National Plan for the Protection of Underwater Archaeological Heritage, which outlines basic guidelines for an effective protection policy. In November 2008, the National Museum of Underwater Archaeology (ARQUA) opened in Cartagena (Murcia). This is a pivotal institution in the Plan and seeks to become an international benchmark for renewal in the museology of underwater archaeology. The Green Paper of the National Plan for the Protection of Underwater Archaeological Heritage was presented in June 2010 following two years of work. It analyses the current status of underwater archaeology in Spain and proposes actions to foster effective protection. In collaboration with the autonomous communities, the Ministry of Culture has already launched some of the measures outlined in the Green Paper and is arranging cooperation agreements with each of them to carry out archaeological maps. These maps locate the archaeological, paleontological, ethnographic, and industrial sites, as well as historic roads in the municipalities, which ensure their protection and conservation. It has also signed an agreement with the Ministry of Defence in order to optimise the resources of both Ministries for the protection of underwater heritage.
In 2009, the Spanish Cultural Heritage Institute, under the Directorate General of Fine Arts and Cultural Assets of the Ministry of Culture, published the journal Cultural Heritage of Spain. This is a space for reflection and debate on various research, conservation, restoration and valorisation projects. It also launched the Technical Network of Institutes and Centres for Conservation and Restoration, which brings together all institutions of this type that exist in Spain. The same year, the Ministry of Culture established the National Cultural Journalism Award to recognise the work of the professional journalists and institutions that promote cultural activities and enrich the cultural heritage of Spain.
In 2010, the Hispanic Portuguese Centre of Heritage opened its doors with the aim of becoming a place of reference for the protection, conservation, research and promotion of Spanish and Portuguese cultural heritage. Based on the exchange of knowledge and experiences and the construction of joint projects, the Centre pays particular attention to the heritage of areas on the border with Portugal, and promotes a cross-border network of centres.
In June 2010, Spain was elected as a member of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. Six Spanish NGOs were also elected as accredited organisations to advise on the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage: the UNESCO Centre of Navarra, the UNESCO Centre of Catalonia, the UNESCO Centre of San Sebastian (Basque Country), the UNESCO Centre of the autonomous city of Melilla, the Mediterranean Diet Foundation and the Centre for Borjanos Studies of the "Fernando el Católico" Institution. At a regional level, some initiatives in this area are the Intangible Cultural Heritage Archive of Navarra, coordinated by the Public University of Navarra, and the Atlas of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Andalusia, prepared by the Andalusian Historical Heritage Institute.
Also in 2010, the Ministries of Culture, Industry, Tourism and Trade, and Foreign Affairs and Cooperation developed a Plan for the International Promotion of Cultural Tourism 2010-2012. The aim of this Plan is to promote the destination "Cultural Spain", and to establish four action areas: museums; theatre, music and dance festivals; the promotion of thematic cultural routes; and language tourism promotion. The Plan, approved in June 2010, involves the implementation of a coordinated strategy for overseas promotion, which includes the collaboration of regions and local authorities. To this end, the Technical Secretariat of the Ministry of Culture has given organisations the opportunity to obtain grants through calls for proposals addressed to promote cultural tourism.
Another line of action, initiated by the Ministry of Culture at the end of 2010, is connecting young people to cultural heritage and involving them in heritage protection and dissemination. This initiative is part of the Young Heritage Programme and includes a website with information and news about issues and activities related to heritage and dissemination of multimedia materials in schools and associations, exhibitions and meetings.
In early 2011, and in order to place the preventive conservation of heritage as a strategic public priority in the heritage sector, the government launched the new National Preventive Conservation Plan. In the same period, a new National Industrial Heritage Plan was approved with the aim of overcoming all difficulties related to the functioning and / or effectiveness of the control instruments derived from the previous Plan. Both Plans aim to be innovative instruments to effectively apply an integrated approach for the management of cultural heritage, enabling research, conservation and dissemination.
In the museum sector in 2008, the Ministry of Culture launched the Permanent Laboratory on Museum Visitors that seeks to obtain relevant knowledge about visitors to the state museums. Finally, it should be noted that the Council of Ministers adopted a Royal Decree (see chapter 5.3.3) on 31 July 2009 to establish a Network of Museums in Spain. This will allow coordination and cooperation between different public administrations and institutions with responsibility in this matter.
For more information, see
European Heritage Network: Country profile Spain