Cultural heritage – a target in war

17 May 2022

The back of a man walking in a museum

The medieval city of Visby has been proclaimed a World Heritage site by the UN. Sweden has 15 World Heritage sites overall, distinctly valuable cultural environments.

In the world heritage city of Visby, Mattias Legnér conducts research into cultural heritage in conflict zones. A lot of times, cultural heritage becomes a target in war. Churches, old buildings and museums are ruined, such as in Ukraine and in Syria.

– You might not notice in your daily life, but when important cultural environments or other signs of our history is destroyed, it's clear that it affects people emotionally, and we struggle with making sense of our time and space, says Mattias Legnér, Professor in Conservation at the Department of Art History, Uppsala University.

The medieval city of Visby has been proclaimed a World Heritage site by the UN. Sweden has 15 World Heritage sites overall, distinctly valuable cultural environments.

How can we be more proactive in protecting the cultural heritage in Sweden?
– We would need to plan for what various cultural heritage institutions – such as museums, archives, libraries, and churches – can do to protect their collections and buildings in an armed conflict, in case one would happen.Today, we don't have as many
such preparations as one would wish.

Last modified: 2021-02-14