Tag Archives: the National Heritage board

Need Swedish museums more volunteers?

The annual political event Almedalen, on the island Gotland in Sweden, is just around the corner.

During the first week of July politicians and lobby-organisations meet on common ground to discuss current events – and this year I’m in ūüôā

Cultural Heritage is of course part if that and so are questions regarding museums, archives and libraries. A few months ago I was elected to the board of DIK – the creative union; that includes communicators, archaeologists, museum employees, antiquarians, librarians, speech pathologist etc.

One of the debates this year concerns volunteers in cultural institutions. In one corner are Annika Olsson, Gender studies РStockholm University, (me) Magnus Reuterdahl, DIK, and Karin Thorasdotter, Arenagruppen.

On this side we are concerned when it comes to volunteers. There is a risk that they are replace paid personal, and issues regarding insurances, liability and costs are not clear – among other things.

On the opposite side are Lars Amréus, Antiquarian of the Realm, Riksantikvarieämbetet (National heritage board), Nicklas Lundblad, IT debater, social policy adviser, Google and Lars-Anders Johansson, responsible for cultural issues, Timbro.

They are for more volunteers.

The debattle is organized by Riksutställningar (The Swedish Travelling Exhibitions) under the name; Need Swedish museums more volunteers? (Behöver svenska museer fler volontärer?)

The debate is held on July 2,10:00 Р11:30 at Riksutställningar.

Read more about it here (in Swedish).

Magnus Reuterdahl

Back to school

Next week I’ll attend the National Heritage board‚Äôs course on Historic Landscapes (Landskapshistorisk utbildning), which I hope will be both interesting and educational. It‚Äôll take place in Stockholm and in Bergslagen. The course will concern ancient and historic environments from different periods in time that mirrors our history from antiquity to the 1900s such as farmlands, mining, habitual areas etc.

I‚Äôve not spend all that much time in Bergslagen so I‚Äôll especially look forward to that part. Bergslagen is an area in the ‚Äúmiddle‚ÄĚ of Sweden within the north and west part of the province V√§stmaland, the north part of √Ėrebro County, the southeast part of the province V√§rmland and the south part of the province Dalarna. Though some also includes part of the provinces N√§rke, √Ėsterg√∂tland, Uppland and G√§strikland ‚Äď the boundaries differs a bit depending on source and who set them for what purpose. Anyhow Bergslagen is an area that has historically been heavily dependent of mining and metal production.

I also look forward of meeting colleagues for professional as well as social discussions and some good photo ops, so I get use of my new camera.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Do RAA date back to 1398?

Welcome to a home baked conspiracy theory!

As I did research on a completely different matter I stumbled on an amazing discovery; RAA is a lot older than the offical records show. For you who don’t know what RAA is, it is a shortening for Riksantikvarieämbetet the Swedish National Heritage board.

As I by chance was looking in the book Svenskt ortnamnslexicon (Ed. Mats Wahlberg 2003). I encountered this reference In amne dicta RAA (In the river called RAA) 1398. Obviously this river is named after the Board which must have had had its original seat not in Stockholm but in Helsingborg.

According to official records RAA was founded 1630 may 20th and the first head of the National Heritage board was Johannes Bureus (1568-1652). As everyone can see there is a discrepancy between 1398 and 1630. As I see it there can only be one explanation this must be part of a conspiracy to cover up the actions taken during the first 232 years of service ‚Äď why? Well I haven‚Äôt yet uncovered this but I‚Äôll get back to you as soon it strikes me!

(In reality this particular Raa has no connection to the National Heritage board but is a name of a district in the city Helsingborg; Raa or as it is spelled nowadays Råå, named after the river Råå. I just couldn’t skip the chance of starting a conspiracy theory)

Magnus Reuterdahl

the Culture investigation part 2


I am disappointed with the Culture investigation due to several factors, but most regarding the fact that it focuses on organizational aspects rather than on visions or practical aspects. Much of the result can be summed up by the suggestion that 24 authorities are to become three. Statements regarding this investigation are due in just 3 months, not much time to digest 900 pages and provide good comments. The plan is to kick this off in 2010.

Why the rush? Was super organisations really what we needed and/or wanted?

When confronted by the finance situation in the Cultural Heritage sector one can’t help but ask how the sector is to survive; as it slowly but surely has been dismantled for many years and according to plan this will continue.

In 2009 the Cultural sections of the County Administrative Board applied for ca 369 million sek (ca 36 million ‚ā¨) in appropriations. In the end 210 millions was granted i.e. a gap of 159 million or 43% less than was applied for. Now it’s not quite as bad as it looks. The applied money can be divided into two parts; money for basic activity and money for various project applications (which most often is sought from external partners such as museums via the Cultural sections of the County Administrative Boards). I would guess the latter part is ca 20% of the applied amount i.e. ca 74 million sek. A large proportion of these projects will never be realized neither will parts of the planned activities.

I feel that is a problem that there is such a big discrepancy between funds applied and approved as this shows that there is a great need for funding. Furthermore I believe it would be better for all parts if the museums and different organisiation where to apply directly to the National Heritage Board instead of making the extra step via the County Administrative Board.

In the beginning of this post I mentioned the dismantling of the cultural heritage sector (and for that matter many other government sectors), which have been lasting for several years. It is one thing if this was a clearly stated objective, against which the sector could respond to. As it is now the government do not to provide full compensation for price and wage developments, the 2008 ratio was approximately 0.8: 3. i.e. raising the allocation with 0.8% while prices and wages rose by about 3 percent is cut back with more 2,2 %. This combined with “market” rent for the premises occupied, which in many cases are rooms that may only be used for a single purpose, such as museums. The state gives with one hand takes it back with the other. The effect is that they slowly but surely dismantle the sector without adding special saving requirements, read more about it here (article in Swedish).

Unfortunately it feels like it doesn’t matter wheatear we have a right or left government, when none of them seems to have an ideological or visionary interest in these issues. The system was introduced by the Social democrats and is being retained by the non socialist government of today, i.e. the dismantling has been in effect for more than 15 years. And during this 15 years Sweden has been doing good financially. I don’t know if the effect has been 2 %/ year but either way it is a lot of money and services lost.¬† Now it must be said that it is in principle applicable to cultural policy as a whole and not only those related to cultural heritage.

As I see it most of the ideas that is brought forth in this investigation is yesterdays news, it feels old and dusty and do not set a vision for either today or tomorrow. Why place the Cultural heritage sector together with art and exhibits when most work we do is in a higher degree connected with issues regarding planning, development, environmental protection, landscape etc.

I hope that this proposal does not go through as it stands today.

Now I’ve sulked long enough on this, it is time for something more uplifting and less domestic; next post is on Osteology, and that’s a promise!


Magnus Reuterdahl

The culture investigation report (Sweden)

The culture investigation report is now published at Kulturdepartementets (The Ministry of Culture) webpage.

Kulturutredningens betänkande SOU 2009:16 (In Swedish)

It’s massive, ca 900 pages, though only portions of it are of direct interest to me. I’ll begin reading it or rather portions of it during the day. I guess I’ll have opinions on at least parts of it.

A first update;

One of the proposals is that a single authority with responsibility for issues concerning time, history and habitat is to be formed. This authority is to be formed by the current authorities; Riksantikvarieämbetet (the National Heritage Board), Riksutställningar (Swedish travelling exhibitions), Nämnden för hemslöjdsfrågor (The National Swedish Handicraft Council), Statens konstråd (The National Public Art Council) and Arkitekturmuseet (the Swedish Museum of Architecture).

I’m not sure if this is a good idea, I feel that it is a big risk that the issues regarding cultural heritage, archaeology and historic building etc. are being obscured by the issues regarding art and crafts or become an authority of mishmash with to many purposes and focuses.

I feel that most current issues in our field are better suited to be handled within either Boverket (The National Board of Housing, Building and Planning) or Naturvårdverket (the Environmental Protection Agency). Now this is my opinion and I do understand some of the reasons brought forth in the investigation, for example the connection between the Swedish travelling exhibitions the museums and the National Heritage Board. But in this case one must consider the differences between the museums and not bundle them together. I would rather propose the considered and rejected alternative; That two new authorities are to be formed: One authority on heritage issues formed by Riksantikvarieämbetet (the National Heritage Board), Riksutställningar (Swedish travelling exhibitions) and another authority on architecture, form and design formed by Nämnden för hemslöjdsfrågor (The National Swedish Handicraft Council), Statens konstråd (The National Public Art Council) and Arkitekturmuseet (the Swedish Museum of Architecture).

Kullenmannen (the hill man) also comments on the culture investigation report (in Swedish). It seems that our views on the matter of a new authority is more or less the same.

Update 2;

I note that the investigation proposes a big change; from “the cultural heritage are to be preserved, used and enrich people’s lives” to “the cultural heritage are to be preserved, used and interpreted.” Now that’s rethinking!

No, it is not rethinking but rather a form of recycling. It is a shift of focus; from the view that cultural heritage is something important for people in their immediate environment to the interpretation of cultural heritage. Does this mean that the government wants to go towards a narrative again, to return to knowledge rather than follow popular opinions? There is a part of this investigation that indicates just that, among other things it concerns the need for more resources to education and research. I will return to this as I’ve read this part more thoroughly!

Update 3;

Regarding the term interpret it is said in the investigation:

Vi har formulerat oss s√• att det skall vara tydligt att uppgiften att bevara, bruka och tolka kulturarvet √§r n√•got som st√•r √∂ppen f√∂r envar och allra minst √§r n√•got exklusivt ansvar f√∂r myndigheter och institutioner. Det tolkande inslaget i m√•let √∂ppnar f√∂r en m√•ngfald perspektiv p√• det kulturarv som tillh√∂r alla. ” (Ch. 8.2.2. p.44-45)

We have formulated us so that it should be clear that the task to preserve, use and interpret the cultural heritage is something that is open to anyone and least of all is an exclusive responsibility of the authorities and institutions. The interpretive element of the case is open for a variety of perspectives on the cultural heritage that belongs to everyone.” (Translation of the quote by me)

If I hadn’t read the explanatory text, above, I would have interpreted it in another way, as I did. In this case interpret means it is open for interpretation by anyone, for a flicker of time I thought I saw a small glimpse of light; an opening for professionalism.

Update 4;

Reactions in Swedish newspapers 

Dagens Nyheter (all in Swedish);

Stora förändringar med Kulturutredningen  

Kultursverige kommenterar utredningen  

De nya kulturpolitiska målen

Kulturthriller mot sitt slut

“En del blir glada, andra inte”

Svenska Dagbladet (all in Swedish);

Rejäl ommöblering i kulturlivet

Visionen bakom ändrad organisation

Kultur viktigt som politiskt varumärke

Update 5;

That’s all for today, I’ve got a Darwin-post to write that will be up tonight or tomorrow and I’m¬†flying to Stockholm for the weekend in a few hours. The Osteological association seminar is on Saturady so that’ll be a post as well. Lots to look foward to, I’ll get back to the investigation tomorrow or on Monday.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Joy to the world (or at least to those who love runes)

Updated (2009-02-04) see red text and yet another update in green (2009-02-05)!

Good news from the National Heritage Board of (RAA) in Sweden; Runverket (The Rune agency) will get 2 trainees (link in Swedish). The posts are for five years and are open to those with a PhD in Scandinavian languages with a historic profile or a similar education. The aim is to develop new and deeper knowledge of runic writing, research rune stone makers, to do research on management and preservation, the climates impact etc.

Rune stone U 708
Rune stone U 708

These employments are possible by funds from Riksbankens jubileumsfond (the Bank of Sweden) and the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities.

I think this decision is one of the best news this year, so far, and I will salute it with a beer tonight (or I might just make a bridge to commemorate this decision).

I’d missed one thing; it is not two five-year openings but one for three years and one for two years.

My friend and colleague Johan from arkeologiforum.se informes me that it is 2 x 5 yrs after all; after the first two years there will an evaluation and if it falls out well then it will be another three years added. The more the merrier!


I’ve also been thinking about the term trainee;

In this case you’ll need a PhD to be qualified for the job. I personally connect the term trainee with something on a lesser level as a beginner or a novice. As I interpret the term trainee it is someone that is taught the trade from the inside, in this case I don’t feel that’s the case. Here RAA wants researchers to do research. Now learning and research is a lifelong process but when does the education stop and the work begin? To spend four years on post graduate program, getting a PhD and then get the title trainee feels a bit incapacitating in my view why not just call it a project employment or time limited employment as a runeologist.

Maybe I am in the wrong here; I’ll linger on it a bit longer and ponder over it for a while. Please leave a comment on your thoughts on this.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m still very pleased that Runverket gets more resources.

Magnus Reuterdahl

The story of Tengbom organ fa√ßade in St Nikolai’s Church

I can’t say that that I had any knowledge about this affair before I stumbled across this article on the National heritage board’s (RAA) webpage. By chance I opened it and found an interesting article regarding a subject I otherwise probably never would have stumbled upon; an organ fa√ßade and the fights concerning its restoration or not. In this case the reinstatement of Ivar Tengbom’s organ fa√ßade in St Nikolai’s Church Halmstad.

The article concerns the issues on the restoration, the history of the fa√ßade, about the church’s purchase and installation of a new organ even though Tengbom’s was considered a cultural heritage and legally protected and therefore was to be restored and reinstated. An interesting tale of a struggle between different interests.

Originally this article, written by Marianne Lundberg and Niclas Fredriksson both working at RAA, was published in Orgelforum (3 2007:3 p. 12-16).

 Well, read all about here;

Tengbom fa√ßade on St Nikolai’s Church in Halmstad; clarification (In English)

Tengbomsfasaden i S:t Nikolai kyrka i Halmstad‚Äď ett klarg√∂rande¬†(In Swedish)

After reading the article, that is interesting from several angles, it strengthen my belief that we need a strong and alert, as in this case, Governmental supervision to ensure the cultural heritage in all its form.

Magnus Reuterdahl

A slow week?

It feels like this has been a slow week, though it has been filled with a lot of work, but mostly slow work. As my employment here in Växjö is rushing towards the end there are a lot of loose knots to tie, small projects to finish and small reports to make.  

Next week it will be more be more of an action week, as I need to visit some ancient monuments. Some I need to photo for a small project and some we need to visit to gain more information before we make any decisions concerning them or the area around them. So next week I’ll have a few archaeo-pictures for you.  

The most interesting subject this week was a presentation made by the National Heritage board concerning the new handbook on contract-archaeology. Lots of good stuff and intensions in there, though it means a higher burden of job on both the county administrative board and the contract-archaeologists. Anyhow it was an interesting and giving day. 

Magnus Reuterdahl

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