The Heritage Commemoration Act (Kulturminneslagen, Swedish Code of Statutes 1988:950) contains regulations on ancient monuments, historic buildings, religious monuments and export and restoration of cultural objects etc. The Act stipulates that everyone in Sweden share responsibility for the cultural environment. Authorities, and individuals alike, shall show consideration and respect for the cultural environment.
The following government agencies and institutions have a special role in safeguarding the cultural environment, and in implementing this legislation:
- the National Heritage Board (Riksantikvarieämbetet) is the central administrative authority. At the national level, the Board has overall responsibility for disseminating knowledge about the cultural environment and for information campaigns and contact with the public;
- the County Administrative Boards (Länstyrelser) have responsibility for the cultural environment at the regional level. This means that they decide on matters related to the National Heritage Act within their regions, and are responsible for ensuring that protection of the cultural environment is taken into account in regional planning and development. The county administrative boards also allocate state funds for the restoration of historic buildings, ancient monuments and historic landscapes within their regions;
- at the local level, local government is responsible for the protection and development of the cultural heritage. This role is exercised, inter alia, with physical municipal planning and through the application of the Planning and Building Act (1987:10).
The most recent significant changes in Swedish heritage policy were introduced in Government Bill 2016/17:116, introducing a new museum law, and confirming existing objectives for heritage policy. The Museum Law (2017:563) regulates the primary roles of public, i.e. national, regional, and municipal, museums, defining museums as “an institution that is open to the public, and which acquires, preserves, investigates, mediates, and exhibits material and intangible testimonies about mankind, and her environment” (Swedish Code of Statutes 2017:563, §2). It includes measures to protect their independence vis-à-vis political involvement. In the bill, the government also discussed general issues concerning policies on heritage and the cultural environment, as well as clarifications regarding e.g. protection of vegetation on cemeteries, and regulations to protect national treasures by limiting export of culturally and historically significant objects.