Hartman submits bill to amend museums law, create new folk culture database

Piret Hartman.
Piret Hartman. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Wednesday in the Riigikogu's first reading, Minister of Culture Piret Hartman (SDE) introduced a legislation that simplifies the procedures for removal of items from museum collections, amends the conditions of museum funding, and proposes the creation of a new folk culture database.

"Estonia has every reason to be proud of its world-class museums," Hartman said in a Wednesday ministry press release.

"The museum of today should not be merely an exhibition place or a passive custodian of heritage. Museums have a wider social role to play in raising awareness and addressing societal bottlenecks," the minister said.

"Changes to the law will help update the definition and function of museums, streamline their administration, and explain how they are funded," Hartman said.

The draft Act amending the Heritage Conservation Act, the Administrative Co-operation Act and the Museums Act updates the system for providing grants to museums from the state budget, making it more transparent and performance-based.

Funding allocation to museums

Under the existing regulations, all funding applications from museums are evaluated using the same criteria. The proposed rules differentiate the application procedures for operating grants for museums acting as public foundations, institutions using a museum collection under a management contract, and museums operating under alternative forms of ownership.

Funding for the activities of public foundations will be linked to their ability to meet the founder's expectations.

Removing items from state collections

At present, the procedures for removing museum items from the museum collection are intricate and time-consuming. For instance, the director is responsible for adding a case to the collection, whereas it is the museum's founder who is responsible for removing an item.

Both actions are, nevertheless, inherent to the development of collections. The ministry proposes that the museum will decide whether or not to remove an item from its collection.

In addition, the circle of institutions and persons to whom items removed from the state's museum collection may be transferred will be expanded, the press release says.

New folk culture database

The new legislation lays the groundwork for a new database on folk culture, which is expected to include information on organizations, collectives, instructors, folk and cultural houses and related facilities.

The folk culture registries are used for national statistics on folk culture and the song and dance festival related traditions, for cultural policy-making and funding decisions.

The new database will replace the register of the Estonian Song and Dance Festival Foundation and the folk culture database of the Estonian Folk Culture Center.

Students from Tartu University's Faculty of Philology on a folklore collecting expedition. Source: Folk Culture Archive


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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