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The Swiss National Museum (now 8 museums) will review its work and set up a centre for museum studies by 2015.

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Switzerland/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate  

4.1 Main cultural policy issues and priorities

National cohesion – cultivating and fostering peaceable collective life and mutual understanding among the diverse cultural communities, both Swiss and foreign – is an ongoing cultural priority for Switzerland. The new Culture Promotion Act (2009 and enacted in 2012) and the accompanying Dispatch on Culture are both an expression of this self-image. Therein, the Federal Council defines the core objectives of federal cultural policy as the fostering of cultural diversity and the improvement of access to culture. The Federal Council endeavours to promote exchange and to establish good conditions for cultural life in Switzerland. Further, it seeks to strengthen cooperation with the cantons, cities, and communes by means of a national dialogue on culture, aimed at enhancing information exchange, strengthening cooperation, and promoting mutual understanding and trust. The Dispatch on Culture also defines two current issues that should be given particular attention in the respective period of time: living traditions and digital culture.

Also significant in this respect is the development of a language policy. The main tasks of the corresponding Languages Act (2010) are to develop guidelines on the use of the official languages in the federal administration, to support student exchanges, to establish a scientific institution for the study of multilingualism, to support multilingual cantons, and to promote the Romansh and Italian languages in Switzerland (for further information, see chapter 4.2.5).

The new Museums and Collections Act came into force on 1 January 2010. Article 2 stipulates that the Swiss Confederation shall pursue the following objectives:

  • to preserve important moveable cultural assets;
  • to strengthen the population's awareness of the country's diverse cultures;
  • to develop a clearer profile of the federal museums and collections;
  • to improve cooperation among Swiss museums;
  • to lend professional support to other museums and collections in Switzerland; and
  • for the federal museums and collections to contribute to making Switzerland an attractive location for science, business, and tourism.

Prior to the Act becoming effective, the Musée-Suisse-Group was replaced by the Swiss National Museum. The Swiss National Museum now consists of the National Museum Zurich, the Castle of Prangins and the Forum of Swiss History Schwyz. Seven further smaller museums such as the Sammlung Oskar Reinhart in Winterthur, as well as the Centre Dürrenmatt in Neuchâtel are under the direct control of the Federal Office of Culture. This arrangement provides Switzerland with a national museum policy for the first time. It stipulates the commitment of all member museums to common goals. The 2012‑2015 Dispatch on Culture identifies focal areas for the Swiss National Museum, the renewal of how it displays its permanent collection and the development of a centre of competence for Museum Studies, including the rendering of services to third parties. Among others, the museums shall preserve the "Intangible Cultural Heritage", in formal accordance with the corresponding UNESCO Convention and the new notion of the museum defined by the International Council of Museums (ICOM).

Other issues of national importance in the last few years (most are still current) have included the discussion of new support schemes (taking into increased account relations between public support and market structures, cultural industries); support for new media; broader debates on cultural funding (law on foundations and lotteries); the elaboration of an integral concept (promotion, training, social security) for the dance sector; and measures against illiteracy.

Chapter published: 12-11-2014

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