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, NN 44/17, NN 90/18, NN 32/20, NN 62/20) 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 and Media is responsible for the upholding and updating 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. According to the Registry of Cultural Assets the list of protected intangible cultural goods currently contains 171 units, fifteen 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.
The Ministry of Culture and Media 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, textile or metal), archaeological heritage, and other objects of cultural, historical or technical significance.
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 determined aims, measures and activities in order to ensure sustainable management of cultural heritage. The overall approach to cultural heritage is planned to be addressed in the Strategy of Cultural Development that is in preparation (see chapter 2.8). In 2019 the Ministry of Culture and Media published the Recommendations for the Application of Energy Efficiency Measures on Architectural Heritage that was coordinated with the Ministry of Construction and Physical Planning in order to improve the cross-sectoral approach to the common theme. In addition, one of the important strategic plans that was prepared in 2019 by the Ministry of Culture and Media is the National Plan for the Digitisation of Cultural Heritage 2025 that is presently in the adoption procedure (see chapter 2.4).
In the last couple of years, a number of new or reconstructed museums have been opened and one can say that the number of such institutions is high; according to the Registry of Public and Private Museums, available at the website of Museum Documentation Centre there are 162 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, and there are visible results available. In 2019 several heritage projects financed from the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Cohesion have been finalised, such as the integrated development programme in Virovitica (total funding: 81 439 871 HRK-approx.10 858 649 EUR), CivitasSacra integrated programme on cultural heritage of Šibenik cathedral and palace Galbiani (funding in the amount of 36 380 859 HRK – approx. 4 850 781 EUR), Infocentre of industrial heritage – Holand house (29 282 809 HRK – approx. 3 904 374 EUR) etc.
Taking into account the Zagreb and Sisak-Moslavina County 2020 earthquakes of great magnitude that have caused major damage to cultural heritage buildings (see chapter 2.1), much work and funding will be needed in order to restore and renovate the destroyed monuments and other buildings with cultural purpose. (See links to ICOM reports on the situation in Zagreb and Sisak-Moslavina County).