The support and protection of monuments and cultural heritage in the Czech Republic (CR) has been a primary aim of all cultural policies. This is also true in the new State Cultural Policy for 2015-2020. The main priorities of cultural policy in this area is the modernisation of infrastructure, the conservation of cultural heritage as an environment that supports creativity, and the use of cultural heritage towards the development of the economy and improving competitiveness. In this respect, it also concentrates on the digitisation of cultural materials and support for creative ways of presenting cultural heritage.
In the field of cultural heritage, the key task is the proposal of a new Act on Cultural Heritage that should redefine public interest in the protection of cultural heritage, strengthen the role of cultural monument owners, simplify public administration in the field of cultural heritage and create a fund for motivating owners of cultural heritage. One essential preparatory step was to elaborate a statement of purpose for the Heritage Act that the Government of the Czech Republic adopted in Resolution No. 156 dated 6 March 2013. The new Heritage Act (Act on the Czech Heritage) must be submitted to the government in 2015. Preparation of the act has been widely discussed but the process of completing the final version has been very slow given that there are a number of very sensitive issues relating to the protection of heritage stock and there are very different opinions among owners of monuments and supporters and within the heritage conservation community itself.
In July 2011 the government adopted the Concept for Cultural Heritage in the Czech Republic for 2011–2016. The document has two sections: the first describes the current situation, and the second outlines the objectives that heritage conservation in the Czech Republic hopes to achieve. The Ministry is the founder of the National Institute of Cultural Heritage, which provides professional services to all parties in this field, provides documentary evidence for the Cultural Heritage Fund and carries out research in the field of cultural heritage protection. The Institute’s main role is the administration and presentation of a chosen group of 103 cultural heritage objects or their collections and sites owned by the state, such as castles, chateaux and national cultural monuments.
In 2011 the Ministry of Culture, in cooperation with the National Institute of Cultural Heritage obtained financial resources for the project “Applying the Principle of Smart Administration to the Cultural Heritage Fund in the CR” of the Integrated Operational Programme. The part of the Integrated Operational Programme managed by the MC specialises in the field of cultural heritage. Intervention area 5.1, “National Support for Using the Potential of Cultural Heritage”, is intended to increase the potential of cultural heritage and cultural services of the CR and stimulate economic and social growth. The aim of the programme Bringing Monuments Back to Life is to restore and utilise cultural heritage objects or groups listed at UNESCO and on the List of Candidates of national cultural heritage. Within the framework of this programme, 5.7 billion CZK was made available from the Structural Funds, which, together with resources from the state budget, amounts to a total of 6.7 billion CZK. The Ministry of Culture oversaw six projects with total support amounting to 1.8 billion CZK. Five of these projects are being implemented by the National Heritage Institute and one by the National Technical Museum (http://www.kultura-evropa.eu/).
In the field of movable cultural heritage the Ministry is responsible for 18 museums, galleries and monuments plus the National Film Archive. Museums and galleries are dealt with in the Concept for the Development of Museums in the Czech Republic for 2015-2020, which is the third strategic document in this field. A new Concept was drawn up in 2015 and acknowledged by the government in Resolution No. 655. The first and most fundamental strategic objective is to maintain the capacity of public museums and galleries to professionally manage and expand collections and to cultivate a better understanding of them through academic research. The second objective is to create a better legal and economic environment for this field and the third is to expand the services of museums and galleries by employing the technological innovations of the 21st century.
The Ministry operates a unique database on museum-like collections that has slowly become a “virtual exhibition of Czech museology” (http://ces.mkcr.cz). An oral description of more than two and a half thousand objects is complemented by visuals, including photographs of objects, images of depositaries, laboratories etc. Registration in this database is a precondition for applying for some grants from the “Integrated System of Movable Cultural Heritage Protection”.
An unprecedented step was taken in the Czech Republic in relation to cultural collections in 2011. Due to a legal dispute between the Czech state and Diag Human, the latter’s claims led to the seizure of three works of art inside Austria that are the property of the collections of the National Gallery in Prague and the Moravian Gallery in Brno. A similar step was planned in other countries, so with the aim of protecting state culture the MC halted the loan of any cultural goods that are the property of the Czech Republic. At present, state organisations can send cultural goods abroad, but only after securing documents providing a guarantee that the objects cannot be seized in the country to which they are to be sent. For this the Ministry of Culture is preparing to issue Procedural Guidelines accompanied by a legislative map for easier orientation among legislation with respect to such guarantees in individual countries.
In the field of care of intangible cultural heritage – folk music, theatre, dance, rituals, and traditional craft procedures – the UNESCO Convention on the Preservation of Intangible Cultural Heritage was ratified in the CR in 2009. In May 2009, this Convention became part of the system of law in the CR, which is the first time that intangible cultural heritage has been supported by law. For the purpose of implementing this Convention a network of information, training, and methodological bodies was set up for the documentation of traditional folk culture and its conservation. At the national level the MC assigned this task to the National Institute of Folk Culture and at the regional level to museums designated by regional authorities. These regional bodies cooperate on fulfilling their tasks with other museums in the region and with national museums with ethnographic units (National Museum, Moravian Provincial Museum, Silesian Provincial Museum, Wallachian Open-Air Museum in Rožnov pod Radhoštěm, National Agricultural Museum), and they develop their own networks of volunteers and use the services of local chroniclers and the resource network of the Czech Ethnographic Society.
In conformity with the Convention, the National Council of Traditional Folk Culture, an advisory body of the Ministry of Culture, discusses nominations for the List of Intangible Properties of Traditional Folk Culture.
In January 2011 the Government of the CR approved the second Concept for the Effective Care of Traditional Folk Culture in the CR for 2011-2015. The basic objective is to support the preservation of existing artefacts of traditional folk culture and pass them on to future generations. The objective will be fulfilled using instruments that under the previous Concept adopted by the government in 2003 proved effective and promising. These mainly include economic instruments in the form of grant programmes supporting traditional folk culture, research and development, providing MC arts and study scholarships or awarding MC prizes in the field of traditional folk culture. The Concept’s major tasks involve activity in the competence of various other ministries. Alongside measures within the competence of the MC, other measures relate mainly to education and science (Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, and the Academy of Sciences of the CR) and working with archives (Ministry of the Interior).
For more information, see
European Heritage Network: Country profile Czech Republic