Inadequate protection in the law for public art

There is a gap in the law when it comes to the preservation of public art in buildings. Valuable cultural heritage is thus at risk of being forgotten or disappearing. A new thesis on cultural heritage completed at the University of Gothenburg sheds light on this issue.

Since the introduction in 1937 of the ‘one per cent rule’, there has been major investment in site-specific art in public spaces. The rule, which is really just a recommendation, requires one per cent of construction costs to be set aside for commissioning artworks. In her thesis, conservator Karin Hermerén has analysed the decision-making processes relating to site-specific art from a long-term conservation perspective. In her view, there ought to be opportunities for a public, shared management and oversight responsibility for the artworks that have been paid for out of the public purse, regardless of their subsequent owners.

“Current legislation could accommodate measures to better preserve, manage and protect these artworks. However, the relationship between the qualification criteria in the Heritage Conservation Act and more general Planning and Building Act makes it difficult to apply the protection provisions. Established practice relating to protection regulations is at odds with the special conditions relating to artistic value and copyright,” says Karin Hermerén.

Public art at Vrinnevi