The term cultural property refers to something that has a special cultural value and should therefore be preserved. Professional restorers are responsible for the preservation of cultural assets, which are also referred to as cultural heritage. In the German language, cultural property is understood to mean movable as well as immovable goods.
These cultural assets can have literary, historical, archaeological or architectural significance. In this regard, cultural assets can be found in museums, archives and libraries. In many places, castles and architectural monuments still characterise the streetscape or the historic city centre as cultural heritage. The origin and age of cultural assets can be very different: many date back to advanced civilizations or the Middle Ages. The materials that are regarded as cultural assets are also diverse. The 1964 Venice Charter is worth mentioning in this context. Today it is still regarded as one of the most important, recognised guidelines for the preservation of historical monuments. This important text explains how to proceed in the restoration and conservation of cultural heritage.
What about the UNESCO World Heritage Site?
This award for cultural goods is particularly famous, because places/monuments declared accordingly often achieve worldwide fame. UNESCO awards this title to sites that are renowned worldwide for their uniqueness and authenticity. A general distinction is made between World Cultural Heritage and World Natural Heritage. A cultural asset may only bear this designation if it complies with the World Heritage Conventions. In 2018, well over 1,000 sites worldwide will bear this title, with a total of 167 countries represented in the selection.
What role do restorers play in the conservation of cultural heritage?
It is essential that cultural assets should create identity. If they are preserved and protected, they enable us to gain a lively and authentic insight into past times. In this light, it is the task of professional restorers to preserve cultural heritage in many forms as a testimony for posterity. In addition to pure restoration, the task of restorers also includes preliminary investigations and documentation. The work of restorers is therefore indispensable in order to preserve a cultural heritage in the long term. Since the restoration often involves working with originals, these experts bear a great social responsibility in their hands. The fields of work with regard to the preservation of cultural assets can be very diverse, ranging from museums and archives to the preservation of historical monuments.
Legal basis: cultural protection and monument protection laws
In general, it should be emphasised that the protection of historical monuments and cultural heritage is closely linked. In Germany, cultural property is legally anchored in the Cultural Protection Act. The KGSG (Act on the Protection of Cultural Property) is a new regulation that did not come into effect until 2016 and has replaced the previous Act on the Protection of German Cultural Property against Emigration as well as the Cultural Restitution Act. The fact that each federal state has formulated its own law on the protection of historical monuments contributes to the extended protection of cultural property. In the course of history, the protection of cultural heritage has been regulated in different ways. The Hague Convention of 1954 plays a special role in this regard. This document sets out how a cultural asset is to be protected in the event of armed conflict. This is a civil defence task. The emblem, a blue-white diamond, shows which cultural property is considered worthy of protection. Necessary measures would be carried out by the BBK (Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance) in Germany.