The concern for the preservation and valorisation of cultural heritage has an historical tradition in Romania, which has been allowing the strengthening of a dedicated administrative and legal system at present. All the cultural heritage fields are in focus: the moveable and immoveable heritage, the archaeological, industrial and intangible heritage, as well as the cultural landscape.
The central authority in the field of culture is the Ministry of Culture, which provides methodological coordination, monitoring and control over all specialised and non-specialised heritage owners, via its specialised department – the Directorate for Cultural Heritage (with services dedicated to the immoveable and archaeological heritage, as well as to the moveable and intangible heritage), and through the county and Bucharest culture directorates (decentralized services organized at the level of each territorial-administrative unit), and other subordinated institutions, such as the National Heritage Institute. There are also commissions that support the decisions of the Ministry of Culture, which have an advisory and / or endorsing role: the National Commission for Historical Monuments, the Zonal Commissions of Historical Monuments, the National Commission of Museums and Collections, the National Commission for Archaeology and the National Commission for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Cultural heritage has always been an important part of the cultural strategies, actions and politics in Romania. Even though at present we cannot speak about officially assumed and coherently implemented sectoral strategies, cultural heritage is distinctly highlighted within a general objective of the Strategy for culture and national heritage 2016-2022: A better protection of the cultural heritage, based on the acknowledgement of the situation and engaging in efficient partnerships (local-central and public private), subsumed to the priority axis 1, Culture-Factor of sustainable development.
The specific objectives included in the Strategy for culture and national heritage 2016-2022 are:
With the purpose of protecting historical monuments:
- Research, information and documenting on the situation of historical monuments through an integrated approach at local and regional level.
- Improvement and extension of public access to historical monuments and promotion of knowledge on these monuments via new technologies.
- Development of integrated programmes of scientific research, documentation, rehabilitation, management and usage of historical monuments prone to generate welfare and economic development, also through their inclusion into the travel circuit.
- Support for the cohesive values of historical monuments, as factors of social inclusion, of aggregation of social groups around them, considered as cultural and identity landmarks.
- Promotion of cultural diversity by preserving and promoting historical monuments representative for ethnic groups and minorities in Romania.
- Priority support for category A heritage monuments rehabilitation, at central level and for category B monuments, at local and regional level.
- Set up and management of Regional Restoration programmes.
- Improvement of the physical state of the historical monuments currently in a state of structural (pre)collapse.
- Protection and valorisation of the protected built areas.
With the purpose to protect moveable heritage:
- Consistent implementation of the legislation on the ex officio classification of the moveable cultural assets, including those belonging to private owners (e.g. cults) and monitoring the provisions related to incidents in the field.
- Inventorying and keeping records on the stored goods with a view to their conservation, restoration and valorisation.
- Support for a plan of reorganising storage spaces for moveable heritage, as well as for the set-up of declassification criteria.
- Enriching the national cultural heritage via research, acquisition and recovery of stolen or illegally exported goods.
- Putting an end to spoliations (thefts, unauthorized research, illegal exports, destructions etc.) and setting up an adequate protection and security system, including the activation of intra-community and cross-border cooperation instruments.
- Promotion of knowledge on moveable heritage via new technologies and support for focused campaigns of awareness and appreciation, and for valorisation of the moveable national cultural heritage assets.
- Promotion of knowledge on the moveable heritage through scientific methods, systematized database of current and future knowledge.
- Support for and promotion of public access to and participation in moveable heritage.
- Support for the development of Romania’s art market for (classified and non-classified) cultural goods, as well as for contemporary creation.
- Regulation and support for professional training in specific professions and occupations and increasing specialists’ competitiveness on the single market.
- Support for the activities of conservation and restoration of the classified moveable cultural goods.
- Support for the establishment of Regional Centres for the Conservation and Restoration of the Moveable National Cultural Heritage.
- Appraisal of moveable cultural goods with a view to maximise their value.
- Ensure implementing of the Hague Protocol for the Protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict.
And with the purpose of safeguarding, protecting and valorising the intangible cultural heritage:
- Close monitoring of the protection degree for cultural goods listed in or proposed for the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage
- Closing the processes related to the repertoire and inventory of Romania’s intangible cultural heritage.
- Adjustment of the national programme for the safeguarding, protection and valorisation of the intangible cultural heritage to the realities of a fast-changing society, especially in terms of preservation of traditions.
- Drafting of an inter-sectoral program for the creation and development of entrepreneurial skills, of business models adjusted for the economic development of communities, for the stability of working population in the field of crafts, for the decreased percentage of impoverished and nearly-impoverished rural population.
- Promotion of cultural diversity and intangible heritage elements through the preservation, development and expression of cultural and linguistic identity of minorities and ethnic groups in Romania, as well as within Romanian communities abroad.
In order to realise these goals, an important role is played by the systematisation and encoding of the legislation in the cultural heritage field – an initiative materialised in 2016, after long-lasting efforts, through the approval of the Cultural Heritage Theses, which is now part of a project financed from European funds. Thus, in the period July 2018-September 2021, the Ministry of Culture, in partnership with the National Heritage Institute, develops the project “Historical Monuments – strategic planning and optimized public policies”, whose general objective is to optimize and stream the administrative, legislative and decisional act within the central administration and its decentralised services in the field of national cultural heritage. The specific objectives: “Systematisation and simplification of the active legal fund” and the “Drafting of the strategic and operational framework to achieve policies based on evidence in the field of immoveable heritage” are materialised through the following activities:
- Inventory and analysis of the legislation in the field of cultural heritage;
- Systematisation of legislation and drafting the Cultural Heritage Code project, accomplishing the process of public consultation; endorsement and approval of the legislative project;
- Ex-ante evaluation of the impact of evidence-based policies and integration of conclusions into the National Strategy on the protection of historical monuments;
- Drafting of the National Strategy on the protection of historical monuments.
The correlation between the processes of legislation encoding and of drafting the National Strategy on the protection of historical monuments is an advantage of this undertaking, allowing for the establishment of implementation mechanisms starting from the regulatory level.
Another development direction of great specificity, including the field of cultural heritage, is digitisation – a process that was boosted by the strategic initiatives at EU level. Since 2007-2008 Romania has benefited from a public policy on the digitisation of its national cultural resources and on the creation of Romania’s Digital Library. Implementing this public policy has had an impact up to the present, and its results are based on a project of the Ministry of Culture, “E-Cultura”, which is developing in the period July 2018 – July 2021 and whose specific objectives are: “Increasing the number of digitised and online-displayed elements of cultural heritage, in a single access point”, “Increasing the degree of inter-operability between the institutions that own cultural heritage elements” and “Promoting the national cultural heritage by displaying the digitized cultural resources on europeana.eu”. The project involves the digitisation of 550 000 resources and their display in Romania’s Digital Library, as well as the creation of a platform – culturalia.ro. This project is also aimed to improve Romania’s contribution to the europeana.ro platform.
Apart from the inherent deficiencies in implementing the heritage protection and administration mechanisms, we must emphasize that Romania is connected to all major directions of heritage protection proposed by UNESCO, EU, COE, ICOM, at international level. The accession/ratification and signing of all the international conventions relevant for the field of cultural heritage guarantee the highest principles of protection, while the constant fostering of proposals of elements for the UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and World Heritage List is aimed at international recognition of Romanian values and their integration in the global protection systems.