The cultural monuments are preserved by the following laws: Law on the Protection of Cultural Monuments (1992); Law on Dome Church and Monastery Ensemble (2005); and Law on Financing Preservation of Sacral Heritage (adopted in 2017, came into force in 2018).
The Law on Museums passed by the Saeima (Parliament) in 2005 (came into force in 2006), defines tasks and functions of public and state accredited museums and marks them as institutions that serve society and its development. This Law applies to public museums, as well as accredited private museums.
In 1998, a Law on Museums was adopted for the first time to define the basic principles of the operation of museums and launch new structural changes in the museum sector (accreditation of museums, governance etc.). In 2018, amendments were adopted harmonising the definition of the ‘museum’ with the definition adopted by the International Council of Museums: “A museum is a permanent institution which is accessible to the public and serves the society and its development and which acquires, stores, conserves, researches, communicates, and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and the environment in order to promote research, education of the public, and to provide emotional pleasure to the public, and the activities of which in implementation of the functions of a museum are not orientated towards earning profit.”
In 2006, the Law on the Museum of Occupation of Latvia was adopted.
The Law on Archives (adopted in 2010, came into force in 2011) introduced structural changes in the sector when, after reorganisation, 18 state archive institutions were merged into one.
In the field of intangible cultural heritage, there are two significant laws. The Law on the Song and Dance Celebration (2005) aims to preserve, develop and pass on to future generations the tradition of the Song and Dance Celebration, a unique tradition that is common for all three Baltic countries. In 2003, UNESCO proclaimed the tradition and symbolism of the Song and Dance Celebration in Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania as a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity.
In 2016, the Intangible Cultural Heritage Law was adopted. It defines the basic concepts and creates an institutionally organisational system to provide the environment and conditions necessary for targeted support to the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage, as well as to initiate a public dialogue. With this Law, the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage was established.