In 2018, the Lithuanian Register of Cultural Property contained information about 16 400 immovable cultural heritage objects (individual and complex objects and cultural heritage sites) and about 4 000 movable cultural properties. The register is constantly updated and revised. More than 8 000 cultural heritage objects are on the list of state protected cultural heritage objects approved by the Minister of Culture, and 2 298 cultural heritage objects are declared national cultural heritage objects by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (including 150 buildings).
Table 7: Number of state protected cultural heritage sites and national cultural heritage objects in 2015–2018
|State protected cultural heritage sites||8 085||8 117||8 139||8 189|
|National cultural heritage objects||2 297||2 297||2 297||2 298|
Source: Lithuanian Museums Database
According to the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, the State is responsible for the protection of Lithuania’s monuments of history and art as well as other cultural monuments and property. The purpose of protecting cultural heritage in the Republic of Lithuania is its preservation and transfer to future generations.
Legal acts of the Republic of Lithuania distinguish between immovable and movable cultural heritage. The protection of immovable cultural heritage is guaranteed by the Law on Protection of Immovable Cultural Heritage (1994). This law defines cultural heritage as “the cultural property inherited, taken over, created and transmitted from generation to generation and significant from the ethnic, historical, aesthetical or scientific point of view”.
The legal act regulating the protection of movable cultural property is the Law on Protection of Movable Cultural Property (1996). Movable cultural property is defined in this Law as “material creations and other objects which are movable based on their designation and nature, hold cultural value and are listed in the State inventories of movable cultural property”. Immovable and movable cultural property is inscribed in the State Register of Cultural Property.
The heritage policy in Lithuania is shaped and implemented by the Ministry of Culture, the Department of Cultural Heritage, the National Commission for Cultural Heritage, and municipalities. The Ministry of Culture organises state administration for protection of movable and immovable cultural heritage and is in charge thereof. The Department of Cultural Heritage performs the functions of the protection of immovable cultural heritage and movable cultural properties assigned to it by laws and other legal acts; these functions include maintenance and management of cultural properties, maintenance of accounting and control of cultural heritage, as well as presentation of cultural heritage to the society; the Department also contributes to the formation and implementation of national policies in the area of protection of cultural heritage.
The Department is a founder of the state-funded institution the Centre of Cultural Heritage, which collects and accumulates information on cultural heritage as well as conducts historical and physical research; another state institution, Monuments of Lithuania, responsible for maintenance of cultural heritage is also subordinated to the Department. In 2020, this institution will be reorganised in the Cultural Infrastructure Centre, a new institution that will perform the functions of the Monuments of Lithuania as well as act as a commissioner of the reconstruction and modernisation works needed for the cultural objects and other institutions under the Ministry of Culture. Currently, each institution commissions these works by itself. In general, the reorganisation aims to make the system of heritage protection more effective and transparent by the separation of the control of heritage protection from the function of heritage management, as well as to save budget appropriations and to reduce the cost of the contract works.
The National Commission for Cultural Heritage is the expert and adviser to the Parliament, the President of the Republic and the Government regarding national policy issues on the protection of immovable cultural heritage. The activities of the Heritage Commission are regulated by the Law of the National Commission for Cultural Heritage (2004). The main mission of the Heritage Commission is to participate in the formation of a policy and strategy for the protection of cultural heritage, to inform the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania, the President of the Republic of Lithuania and the Government of the Republic of Lithuania about the problems regarding heritage protection, and to prepare draft legal acts related to heritage protection.
Municipalities of the Republic of Lithuania also take part in the heritage policy. They have the heritage protection divisions that perform certain functions for the protection of immovable cultural heritage provided for by law; they also issue the sets of conditions for designing protected structures and structures in the territories of protected objects as well as at protected sites, organise the approval of design documentation for the aforementioned structures as well as grant permits to build, reconstruct, repair or demolish the aforementioned structures in accordance with the procedure laid down by the legal acts of the Republic of Lithuania.
Despite this extensive institutional system for the protection and management of heritage, heritage policy is the most challenging area of cultural policy in Lithuania due to the insufficient funding and frequent changes in legislation. For example, between 2004 and 2014, the Law on the Protection of Immovable Cultural Heritage was amended and supplemented 7 times and a total of 16 amendments and editions were drafted. Such frequent changes to the Law make the implementation of this Law as well as its alignment with other laws very complicated.
In 2019, the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture commissioned a study on the cultural heritage protection processes and compatibility of heritage protection laws. The report of the study presents an analysis of laws regulating the protection of cultural heritage and the provision of services, analysis of international documents related to the protection of cultural heritage as well as an analysis of the functions of the institutions involved in the cultural heritage administration process. The findings of the study reveal the inconsistency between the concepts used in the main Lithuanian heritage protection Laws and duplications of functions performed by the Department of Cultural Heritage, municipalities and Directorates of Protected Areas. Thus, as a conclusion, the study recommends a range of legislative changes and the overall revision of the model of the Lithuanian cultural heritage protection.
The Lithuanian Cultural Policy Strategy 2030 states that Lithuanian cultural heritage policy has long been focused on regulation and control, and paid little attention to communication about the importance of heritage and traditions, and to the raise of awareness about it among heritage managers and the public. There are systemic issues in the administration of cultural heritage protection and a lack of state attention to effective heritage management, measures of preservation of intangible cultural heritage, ethnic cultural phenomena, dialogue with communities and investors, involvement of all segments of society in heritage actualisation decisions.
Lithuanian museum infrastructure consists of national, state, municipal, departmental and private or non-state-owned museums. According to the data of the Ministry of Culture, in 2019, there were 104 museums in Lithuania that submitted reports to the Ministry of Culture: 4 national, 15 state, 56 municipal, 22 departmental, and 7 public institutions/non-state-owned museums. 16 museums, including 4 national and 12 state, fall within the purview of the Ministry of Culture. According to the data of the Lithuanian Department of Statistics, in 2018, all these museums together stored 7 569 200 exhibits.
Table 8: Number of exhibits stored in museums in 2018
|Type of museums||Number of exhibits|
|Number of exhibits in national museums||2 167 577|
|Number of exhibits in state museums||2 686 334|
|Number of exhibits in municipal museums||2 177 372|
|Number of exhibits in departmental museums||484 091|
|Number of exhibits in non-state-owned museums||53 808|
Source: Lithuanian Museums Database
During 2018, Lithuanian museums were visited by 5 026 217 visitors. Compared to 2017 (4 152 393 visitors), the number of museums visitors increased by 21 per cent and compared to 2016 (3 981 126 visitors) by 26 per cent.
Table 9: Number of museums visitors in 2014–2018
|Number of museums visitors (in thousands)||3 757||3 896||3 981||4 152||5 026|
|Average number of visitors per museum (in thousands)||36.1||37.5||38.7||41.5||50.3|
The policy of museums in Lithuania are shaped and implemented by the Ministry of Culture, the Council of Museums and the Lithuanian Council for Culture. According to the Law on Museums, the Ministry of Culture outlines the strategy of the activity of national and state museums, prepares programmes for the implementation of the strategy and submits them to the Government or, at the Government’s discretion, to the Minister of Culture for approval; prepares drafts of legal acts regulating the activity of museums and submits them to the Government or the Minister of Culture for adoption; coordinates the activity of Lithuanian museums, their participation in cross-border museological programmes; checks how objects stored at museums are accounted for and protected; provides funds for the key programmes of museum activity, restoration and scientific research; appoints, through a public competition, and dismisses the directors of national and state museums whose owner’s rights and obligations are implemented by the Ministry of Culture; appoints, through a public competition, and dismisses the deputy directors – chief curators – of national and state museums whose owner’s rights and obligations are implemented by the Ministry of Culture; arranges the professional development of museum curators and restorers; at the order of the Minister of Culture compiles the list of paid services provided by museums within the competence of the Ministry of Culture. The Council of Museums acts as an expert and consultant on issues related to the formulation and implementation of museum policy.
The Lithuanian Council for Culture provides funding for projects of museums. In 2018, the Council allocated 1 321 167 EUR for 138 projects of museums.
In 2015, the Minister of Culture approved the Strategic Guidelines of Museum Development in 2015-2020. The document was drafted by a working group comprised of representatives of the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Education Development Centre, the Faculty of Communication of Vilnius University and Lithuanian museums. The document includes five strategic orientations of museum development: 1) to develop contemporary museum exhibitionsshaping historic awareness, encouraging participation of the society in the cognitive process as well as representing national history and heritage; 2) to strengthen educational activities of museums based on engaging, inclusive, creative teaching and learning principles with the synergy with formal, non-formal and in- formal education programmes, life-long learning and meeting the needs and expectations of different groups of the society; 3) to pursue more efficient collecting, accounting, storing and promotion to the public of museum collections; 4) to enhance accessibility, quality and marketing competitiveness of the services rendered and products provided by museums; 5) to encourage and consistently pursue the building of skills and enhancement of qualification of the museum staff.
The Lithuanian Cultural Policy Strategy 2030 states that museums, libraries, archives, i.e. “memory institutions”, can actively contribute, through traditional and modern means of communication, to the development of citizens’ values and critical thinking, as well as to ensuring their meaningful leisure. Success factors of the activity of memory institutions are the quality of content and its communication. There are positive changes in the activity of Lithuanian museums during the last 3 years, as the number of museums visitors increased by 26 per cent. However, some of the museums’ expositions are still static, they do not reflect changes and actual issues of the society, do not encourage active cognition and therefore do not meet the quality requirements set for a modern museum. In addition, this part of the cultural sector faces a specific challenge by developing its audience, since it is this part of the population who says that the main reason for not attending museums is the lack of interest.