In Liechtenstein, cultural heritage has an important cultural policy significance at both the national and the municipal levels. This includes state and municipal museums as well as the preservation of historical monuments that bear witness to the cultural tradition of the country. It also includes estates of artists and collectors as well as other documents and data secured in various archives for research and information purposes: in the House Archives of the Prince of Liechtenstein, in church archives, municipal archives, the Josef Rheinberger Archives and in the National Archives (see 3.2).
Liechtenstein signed the Davos Declaration in January 2018 (see 1.1), reaffirming the importance of culture for the constructed environment. By doing so, the country committed itself to promoting a high-quality and sustainable building culture. In October 2019, a delegation from Liechtenstein attended a conference on building culture in Malta. Experts from Malta, San Marino, Liechtenstein and Switzerland discussed how to raise awareness of high-quality building culture in regional planning, business, tourism, culture and school education.
For several years now, the Institute of Architecture and Planning at the University of Liechtenstein has also been committed to actively communicating building culture by, among other things, designing, planning and conducting architecture workshops with various schools (from primary schools to secondary schools) in the Rhine Valley region.
The Monument Preservation Division is concerned with this cultural policy task in its capacity as a state institution. It is based on an understanding of monuments that emphasises not only the architectural and artistic value or the architectural quality and aesthetics of an object or an ensemble, but also its significance in terms of social, economic or technical history. The Cultural Assets Protection Act (see 1.1) replaced the Monument Protection Act of 1977 in 2017 and specifies the task for the Office of Cultural Affairs to maintain a register of cultural assets. More than 300 cultural assets were listed between 1950 and 2020. These include altars, documents, church treasures as well as churches, chapels, factories and farmhouses.
However, the loss record shows that over 380 houses worthy of preservation or protection have been demolished in the last two decades. Architectural monuments have not exactly been preserved generously in Liechtenstein in the course of the country’s economic modernisation after the Second World War. Under the title “Die Kunstdenkmäler des Fürstentums Liechtenstein” (The Art Monuments of the Principality of Liechtenstein), one volume each on the art monuments in the Liechtenstein Upper Country and Lower Country were published in 2007 and 2013. This standard work on history and art represents an essential contribution to the country’s cultural memory and understanding of identity. In 2015, the Office of Cultural Affairs was in charge of about 40 listed buildings and subsidised them to the tune of about CHF 1 million; in 2021, almost CHF 2 million was earmarked for the restoration of cultural buildings.
The beginnings of more extensive archaeological investigations date back to the time of the village fire of Schaan in 1849, when a “Roman station” was discovered. Liechtenstein was part of the province of Raetia et Vindelicia, with its capital in Augsburg. It is also believed that the Romans introduced Christianity to the Alpine Rhine Valley. A baptismal font in the hall church of St. Peter in the northeast corner of the fort from the 5th/6th century is evidence of Christianisation. The list of listed buildings in Vaduz includes the castle, the Rhine Bridge, the National Museum and the monument to Josef Gabriel Rheinberger.
Liechtenstein has been participating in the European Open Monuments Day (European Heritage Days) since 1993. In 2005, for instance, minstrelsy in the inner courtyard of the mediaeval Gutenberg Castle in Blazers was included in the programme. Integral historic preservation has become an indispensable element in the history and cultural landscape of Europe. In 2015, the European Heritage Days in Liechtenstein took visitors to the Walser settlement Hinder Prufatscheng in Triesenberg. About 1,000 years ago, the Alemanni reached Goms in Valais. Toward the end of the 13th century, several groups of Walser left Upper Valais (German-speaking part of the Swiss canton of Valais) and settled in further Alpine regions of Switzerland, Northern Italy, Austria, Bavaria and the Liechtenstein mountain region. The colonising achievement of the Walser consisted in the clearing, settlement and cultivation of high-altitude, high-precipitation mountain regions. The culture and the Highest Alemannic German of the Walser, Walser German, are still practised and spoken here and there today.
The National Museum is the social memory of society, a place of identity, a park with attractions and a cultural laboratory. In 2003, the museum relocated to a unique architectural ensemble consisting of the 500-year-old National Museum edifice, the 400-year-old former Governor’s House and one additional newly constructed modern building. This is where archaeology and folklore, history and art, popular piety and industrial history meet. Thanks to multimedia technology, the modern museum has been transformed into a database (see 1.3.1 and 1.3.3). In 2019, 118,800 women, men and children visited the museum and its four houses.
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