Community Heritage

What is Community Heritage?

The term “Community Heritage” is widely used to describe groups of people working to preserve tangible and intangible aspects of their local culture. Since the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, many countries have established national frameworks for community heritage collaboration, but Scotland is not one of them.

Despite lacking such a national framework, many people in Scotland are involved with community heritage in some way. For many of them, cultural heritage is central to their sense of identity, and they spend many voluntary working hours making it sustainable and accessible.

“On Sustainable and Community Museums”, edited by Karen Brown, Peter Davis, and Luís Raposo

Click image for the Open Access PDF.

MGCI is also leading a project called EU-LAC-MUSEUMS, funded by the EC Horizon2020 programme ( Researching community and sustainable museums in this project inspired us to be part of the Scottish Community Heritage initiative, so that we could better understand our own national context when comparing it with Latin America.

The aim of the above Book on Community and Sustainable Museums is to provide reflections and didactic tools to suggest how a community might go about conceiving and creating a new community or ecomuseum if they so wished. We also seek to share the experience and knowledge of the EU-LAC-MUSEUMS Project Advisors – Beatriz Espinoza, Hugues de Varine, Teresa Morales Lersch, and Peter Davis – concerning the key concepts and features of community and sustainable museums.

Part 1 – Community and sustainable museums – concepts and key features offers theoretical, philosophical and practical proposals and experiences as to how we might define, maintain, and promote the sustainability of museum communities and eco- and community museums in Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe.

Part 2 – Creating and sustaining community museums and ecomuseums then progresses to thinking in more practical terms – at once didactic and provocative – for the benefit of communities considering the creation of a new ecomuseum or community museum.

Part 3 – Here, a selection of community and sustainable museums from our project partner countries showcases museums from each of the research partner countries in our project: the Anglophone Caribbean, Chile, Costa Rica, Peru, Portugal, Peru, Spain and Scotland.

While working towards a common understanding of “Community Heritage” in Scotland, we define it in line with the Council of Europe Framework on Cultural Heritage.

Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society  – Faro, 27.X.2005


Article 2 – Definitions

For the purposes of this Convention,

Cultural heritage is a group of resources inherited from the past which people identify, independently of ownership, as a reflection and expression of their constantly evolving values, beliefs, knowledge and traditions. It includes all aspects of the environment resulting from the interaction between people and places through time;

a heritage community consists of people who value specific aspects of cultural heritage which they wish, within the framework of public action, to sustain and transmit to future generations.

Article 3 – The common heritage of Europe

The Parties agree to promote an understanding of the common heritage of Europe, which consists of:

all forms of cultural heritage in Europe which together constitute a shared source of remembrance, understanding, identity, cohesion and creativity, and the ideals, principles and values, derived from the experience gained through progress and past conflicts, which foster the development of a peaceful and stable society, founded on respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Article 4 – Rights and responsibilities relating to cultural heritage

The Parties recognise that everyone, alone or collectively, has the right to benefit from the cultural heritage and to contribute towards its enrichment;

everyone, alone or collectively, has the responsibility to respect the cultural heritage of others as much as their own heritage, and consequently the common heritage of Europe;

exercise of the right to cultural heritage may be subject only to those restrictions which are necessary for a democratic society for the protection of the public interest and the rights and freedoms of others.