There are approximately 11 200 buildings registered as part of the immovable cultural heritage (4 421 archaeological sites; 1 726 churches and monasteries with over 150 000 square metres of mural fresco paintings; etc.) and 500 000 museum pieces. Institutional responsibility for cultural heritage (by types) rests with the institutes for the protection of cultural monuments (immovable cultural heritage) and museums, libraries and the national cinématheque (moveable cultural heritage). The process of revalorisation of the cultural heritage is in process for several years.
The first institution for protection of cultural heritage was founded in 1949 in Skopje as a Central institute for protection of cultural monuments and natural rarities (today known as the National Conservation Centre).
Until 2004 there were 7 institutes (together with public museums, as one legal entity) responsible for the protection of immovable cultural heritage (1 national and 6 with regional scope), including conservation and restoration. These institutes are legally obliged to register the monuments designated as cultural heritage. As a result of their work, 11 200 immovable objects from different periods have been recorded. The period of time required to complete the validation process is quite slow in comparison to the speed at which objects are recorded (proportion 10:1). In the period 1991-1997 the share of the protection of the immovable cultural heritage in the total budget for culture ranged from 8 to 13%. In contrast to this, in the period until 1991, the percentage of protection funds used to be as much as 35%.
In 2004, the new Law for Protection of Cultural Heritage was adopted by the Parliament. It defines public services in this field and all available legal mechanisms to ensure the protection of cultural heritage (immovable and movable). Cultural heritage may be publicly or privately owned and may be exported only in exceptional cases with permission by the Minister of Culture. Private owners have an obligation to care and maintain cultural heritage and property and to provide access for scientific and cultural research purposes and in some cases to provide access to the general public. According to this law the newly established Cultural Heritage Protection Office is the main responsible body in this field. The government appoints the director of this Office. The institutes for protection of cultural heritage have to separate from the public museums and transform into national conservation centres.
There are 3 national parks: Galichica (since 1958), Mavrovo (1949) and Pelister (1948).
Museums are mainly responsible for the protection of moveable cultural heritage. To a certain extent, the National and University Library (for medieval manuscripts) and the National Cinématheque (for films) also play a role.
Table 8: Museums in Macedonia, 2018
Besides the national and local museums, there are several museums and museum collections with an unclear legal status (according to the Law on Museums), concerning the ownership, national or local jurisdiction etc.
Table 9: Exhibits by type of collection, 2012
|Type of inventoried exhibits||Number|
|Inventoried exhibits – total||430 642|
|Uninventoried exhibits||189 948|
|Exhibits on display||30 434|
Source: State Statistic Office, Culture and Public Informing, 2012.
There is no official museum policy document yet, but the key issues and priorities have been stated in the National Strategy for Cultural Development 2018-2022:
- necessary changes to the Law on Museums,
- review of the status (national and local) of the museums and decentralisation of the museum network,
- analysis of the space conditions in the major museums,
- analysis of the permanent displays, etc.
There is no national museum association or formal network, but some of the museums are members of ICOM.
It is important to underline that in the past ten years several new museums have been opened: Museum on Water in Ohrid, Memorial House of Mother Theresa, Museum of Macedonian Struggle (both in Skopje) and the Memorial House of Tose Proevski in Krusevo, etc. However, there has been a lot of public argument surrounding the work on the museums. Contrary to the Law on Museums, all the work, even on the permanent displays in the museums, has been carried out by the Ministry of Culture, without appointing any managing or professional staff in the museums. On the other hand, some of the museums are controversial in form, especially the Memorial house of Tose Proeski (pop star recently deceased), or the Memorial House of Mother Theresa.