Cultural heritage and society
We are surrounded by cultural heritage sites every day, whether we think of them as 'cultural heritage sites' or not. They are the traces of earlier people's activities, but may also still be in active use today. Today, cultural monuments and sites are regarded as social resources, but they may also be of importance in relation to the perception of identity and for teaching about local, national and global history. There is no fixed definition of what constitutes a 'cultural heritage site', and what is understood by the term can change over time and vary between different groups. NIKU carries out research in this field because it is important to acquire new knowledge about what constitutes a cultural heritage site, what is considered a cultural heritage site by various groups, and how and why this can change.
It will always be contemporary society that determines to what we ascribe value. Laws passed by politicians and public administration goals are expressions of agreement concerning which cultural heritage sites our society believes should receive a special form of protection. It is important to always have up-to-date knowledge about the sort of consequences social changes can have so we can, among other things, manage the use of resources to better achieve our aims. Therefore, NIKU carries out research and surveys linked to the public sector and the use of means used to administer cultural monuments and sites.
Some of our cultural heritage sites are designated as 'protected' by the public authorities in accordance with the Cultural Heritage Act and must be conserved in line with statutory regulations. Other cultural heritage sites are selected via local authority processes and protected by the Planning and Building Act. NIKU is an expert in professional cultural heritage surveys and valuations, and can offer advisory statements in this area.