Mar 17

Categories of Spanish Historical Heritage

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En español. Auf Deutsch.

Works of artIndependantly of the peculiarities of regional legislation, the basic national Law of Spain refers to several categories of goods included in the Spanish Historical Heritage.

A) Arqueological Heritage

Article 40 of the Historical Heritage Act declares that movable or immovable property is part of this Heritage when it can be studied with archaeological methodology, independently of if it has been extracted and is on the surface or underground, in the territorial sea or continental shelf. Also part of this Heritage are those geological and palaeontological items that are related to the history of man and his origins and history.

Finally the law clearly states that actions in archaeological sites can be either excavations or prospecting, and they have to be authorized properly by the appropriate Administration, as well as that all goods that are discovered are part of the public domain, i.e., the law flatly prohibits their comercialization.

B) Etnographic Heritage

Ethnographic Heritage is made up of knowledge and activities that are or have been a relevant expression of the traditional culture of the Spanish people in their material, social and spiritual aspects. In addition, special protection is provided for those elements that are in danger of disappearance, indicating in this case that the appropriate Administration shall take measures conducive to the study and scientific documentation of this movable, immovable property.

C) Inventory of Goods Belonging to the Catholic Church

The Historical Heritage Act, in its article 28, establishes that “property declared of cultural interest and those that are included in the General Inventory and that are in possession of ecclesiastical institutions may not be transmitted to individuals or commercial entities”.

D) Documental Heritage

A “document” is understood to be any expression in natural or conventional language and any other expression of graphics, sound or images, collected in any kind of material support including computer storage media. The Heritage Act foresees the carrying out of a Census of Documentary Heritage, which is performed through collaboration agreements between the Ministry of culture and the autonomous communities. This Heritage includes:

  1. Documents generated, stored or gathered by any organism or entity with public status, as well as those related to the management of these services.
  2. Documents which are more forty years old, generated, stored or gathered by entities and associations of a political nature, trade unions or religious associations and by institutions, foundations and private cultural and educational associations.
  3. Documents which are more than one hundred years old, generated, stored or gathered by private entities or individuals.

E) Bibliographical Heritage

According to article 50 of the Heritage Act, this Heritage is comprised of:

  1. Publicly owned libraries and bibliographical collections and the literary, historical, scientific or artistic works of a unified or serial nature in handwritten or printed form, of which there is no record of the existence of at least three copies in libraries or public services.
  2. Literary, scientific or artistic works of a unified or serial nature, in handwritten or printed form, of which there is no record of the existence of at least three copies in libraries or public services.
  3. Items which are products of films, audiovisual materials and other similar items, whatever their material support may be, as long as there is a record of at least three specimens in public services or one in the case of cinematographic films.

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Antonio Pedro Rodríguez Bernal
Lawyer and renowned specialist in the law applicable to the art market, historical heritage and antiques. He has participated in numerous international transactions of valuable works of art, either as a lawyer of the parties or of the participating dealers. He is frequently invited to radio programmes or interviewed in the press to discuss current issues relating to the Law of art, historical heritage and antiques.
Email: info@rodriguezbernal.com

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