European Heritage

Image title

Revival of European Heritage for a New European Renaissance, with Slovenia excelling in European Heritage Days

Nataša Gorenc,  Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia

Conventions, national legislation and regulations generally govern or restrict our behavior. Despite adequate legislation, efficient institutions and excellent programs, the individual is one and only who is able to revive, bring back to our consciousness and maintain stories and wisdoms of our past. We could also say heritage belongs to all of us. Prerequisite for only reasonable behavior – common care and protection, not merely admiring and enjoying heritage prosperity – is awareness in each and every one of us about its existence and of its value. European Heritage Days certainly represent excellent opportunity for engaging everyone in identification, promotion and even restoration of cultural heritage. In that manner, mission of individual’s working in heritage field should be – educating and encouraging children, youth and adult non-professionals by using every possible resources. Last but not least, only well-educated and knowledgeable individual can be sufficiently empowered to deal with challenges of 21st century and be able to help creating a society of participatory democracy.

Our lesson learned on heritage education in the framework of European Heritage Days (EHD) in last few years is as follows: partnership of education, heritage and culture sector at the ministry and local level is necessary for successful, continual and systematic heritage education.

Keywords: heritage education, partnership

Initially, the EHD concept in Slovenia was shaped by institutions with primary activities in the preservation, restoration and promotion of cultural heritage. However, having been convinced that heritage can only be protected by the people, because it belongs to the people, we started to expand our network of participants to encourage non-governmental and other organizations, which were not so closely related with the heritage field. We were particularly successful in 2005, when we tried to use the topic of bringing the EHDs closer to the general public with the concept of intangible cultural heritage. This was a bit more than a year after the adoption of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and two years before Slovenia ratified the Convention. In addition to various events, which were largely shaped by different NGOs and other associations, we published a book Intangible Cultural Heritage and these were the first steps towards the protection and popularization of such a heritage in Slovenia.

Beside European principles we have defined some objectives and principles as follows:

  • we encourage the cooperation of the specialist and non-specialist public in identifying, promoting and renovating cultural heritage;

  • we take a holistic approach both from the point of view of heritage as an indivisible idea and with regard to the activity of people who develop their creativity in multiple spheres in order to approach heritage;

  • we are committed to the integration of the Slovene cultural sphere even outside the borders of Slovenia;

  • we include the various ethnic communities living in Slovenia;

  • we attempt to fill the gaps created by the frameworks of institutional functioning through interinstitutional and cross-sectoral cooperation.

Not only numbers, but also the feedback is very encouraging. The statistics show that more than half of the overall events held in Slovenia since the first EHD (25 years ago) have taken place in the last three years.

As our goal was to create a systematic, continual and successful heritage education, we started to work on a new project – Cultural Heritage Week. The aims was to stimulate interest for heritage education in the wider social space, especially among children and young people, to foster continuously and properly integrated heritage content into educational processes, and to establish partnerships among education and heritage institutions. Visits to heritage sites are very welcome, but are not enough. The theme and the dates of Cultural Heritage Week are the same as for EHDs. Our partners help us to address teachers to include heritage in the learning process. In this context, we train teachers on teaching methods, as the open space learning method, we share good practices, we provide opportunities for networking, etc. In the context of EHD’s organizers prepare programmes and activities for schools free of charge. Heritage goes to schools was EHD theme in 2014 and this theme helped promoting heritage education very much. We started with 15 schools in 2012, last year we had 170 school and kindergartens cooperating. Many of them devoted the all week to heritage.

The first steps toward integrated approach in the field of arts and cultural education in Slovenia was outlined in governmental strategic document – the National Programme for Culture 2008-2011 (hereinafter referred to as NPC 2008-2011). Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Education together defined the arts and cultural education as a long-term objective of Slovenian cultural policy and set their common objectives and measures at the national level. The definitions were also based on international and European documents and results of conference and meetings in this field. Important point is that includes culture for children and youth – when an individual is the user of culture and plays the role of a viewer, reader, listener, visitor, etc. Moreover, it also includes culture created by children and youth or culture with children and youth – when they are actively involved in cultural activities.

The idea of cooperation of educational and heritage field was very well excepted on a state level. Cultural Heritage Week was defined in National Programme for Culture 2013-2017 (hereinafter referred as NPC 2013-2017) as one of the objectives in cultural heritage field. The objective foreseen one third of total number of kindergarten, primary and secondary organizations will participate in the project. Leading partner is Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia. Other partners are Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Education, Science and Sports, National Institute for Education, UNESCO Slovenia and Community of Kindergartens of Slovenia.

NPC 2013-2017 outlines connection of EHD and Cultural Heritage Week in sense of thematic approach and timing of the project. It sets following objectives for Cultural Heritage Week:

  • to establish a cross-sectorial committee in charge of guidance and implementation of the project;

  • to implement heritage education as a cross-curricular content and dimension;

  • to foster heritage education as an opportunity for multicultural and intergenerational dialogue;

  • to foster open learning methods.

One of our main objectives is to motivate and educate as much teachers as we can, giving them knowledge and confidence not just to lecture on heritage but more important, to inspire pupils for exploring heritage.


Batič, J., 2001. European Heritage Days in Slovenia, 1990-99, Journal for the Protection of Monuments, 39, pp. 234-240.

Eurydice, 2009. Arts and Cultural Education in School in Europe. Brussels: EACEA P9 Eurydice.

Fairclough, Graham, New heritage frontiers, Heritage and beyond, Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 2009, pp. 29‒41.

Gorenc, N., 2016a. čŒetrt stoletja Dnevov evropske kulturne dediščine in tri izvedbe Tedna kulturne dediščine, Bilten Slovenskega konservatorskega društva, 2, pp. 77-82.

Gorenc, N., 2016b. 25 years of bringing European cultural heritage closer to the people, Sinfo, May-June, pp. 68-71.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), 2006. Road Map for Arts Education. The world Conference on Arts Education: Building Creative Capacities for the 21st Century, Lisbon, 6-9 March 2006.