Handbook of Cultural and Heritage Management


2.4. Skills needed – skills involved

The field of cultural and heritage management is continuously evolving. Therefore the skills of the professionals of the field have to cover a wide range of disciplines related both to traditional and emerging professions. The main aim of this chapter is to group and list firstly where cultural heritage projects take place and which are the main professional profiles and specializations. Subsequently they are grouped in four public oriented clusters applicable in all professions and fields. In conclusion there are some observations on the overall field of cultural heritage professions.


Main working environments:

●        Museums and Galleries

●        Archaeological sites

●        Folklore sites

●        Monuments

●        Libraries and archives

●        Historic Sites

●        Religious sites

●        Local cultural and/or historical associations

●        Municipalities

●        Non-profit cultural organizations


●        The above list of working areas/spaces is indicative, but not exhaustive as different geographical and cultural contexts have their own cultural and heritage institutions and organizations.

●        Every country has its own legislative framework related to cultural heritage. This means that laws affect/ can affect the foundation of an institution or initiative, the hiring procedure of experts, the involvement or not of volunteers, etc.


Main Fields of Expertise


·         Archaeology. In different countries you find different specializations of Archaeologists according to the prevalent historic eras of the region. In Greece for example one can be specialized in Prehistorical, Classical, Byzantine Archaeology or Contemporary History and/or more specialized or subfields like Underwater Archaeology. Furthermore within the last few decades new subfields have emerged such as Public, Industrial, Landscape, Experimental and Digital Archaeology.

N.B. In the USA one can find the studies and profession of Archaeology under the wider field of Anthropology, while in Europe it is a discipline on its own.

●        Architecture/ Engineering. Architects and Civil Engineers working on Heritage projects get their specializations in their postgraduate studies mainly related to conservation and restoration but also to museum studies (museum planning) and landscape architecture when it comes to archaeological sites. In most of the EU countries for working on conservation or anastylosis you need a recognized postgraduate qualification on Conservation.

●        Conservation. Conservators work on safeguarding all materials of tangible cultural heritage.   Their specializations are mainly discerned according to materials, like stones, wood, plaster, ceramic, metals, textiles, paper, canvas et. al. They can work either on preventive conservation, remedial conservation or restoration as defined by ICOM-CC 15th Triennial Conference held in New Delhi in September 2008.

●        History and Art History. Historians and Art historians are involved in different institutions and with different duties from archives to municipalities or private foundations and very often work as museum curators or museologists and collection managers.  

●        Creative Industries. Cultural projects as well as heritage enhancement often involve specialists from the creative industries’ sector (photographers, video and film specialists, scriptwriters, publicity specialists, music specialists or composers, graphic artists etc). As evident from many EU funding prerogatives there is a tendency nowadays to combine heritage projects and creative industries’ projects for an integrated cultural approach.

●        Management/Administration/Finances. Over the last decades it has been recognized that for successful management and administration of cultural and heritage working areas it is not enough to gain practical experience on the field. Therefore specialized university curricula have been developed both in undergraduate and postgraduate level, which provide training on heritage management (see appendix B). Also many countries started recognizing the “heritage manager” as a separate profession.

●        IT. With the explosion of the digital era, new professions related to digitalization of heritage assets, of the cultural organizations themselves, as well as with the enhancement of the visitors’ experience have emerged. Examples of IT experts related to heritage can be data analysts, program designers, 3D modellers, web marketeers, etc.

●        Education. Specialized personnel that designs audience development and engagement programmes for different kind of audiences is necessary particularly in big organizations and major projects and can guarantee, partly, a project’s sustainability as new visitors will keep coming for successful educational programmes. Furthermore, educational programmes addressed to children build on the sensitization of future citizens.

Most of the heritage related professions are recognized on a national or academic standard. For an overview and comparison of the competent bodies in each member country and by each member organisation, see http://www.enic-naric.net/

Overall Tendencies/Needs:

●        Strong need for interdisciplinarity and collaboration.

●        Strong need for continuous training and skills improvement.

●        Hands-on experience on the field is essential for applying theory in practice.



Example: Skills of cultural professionals divided in clusters for Collection Management

Cultural and and heritage managers should act in the public interest. Therefore, even when performing a technical work, they should respect the following “four main clusters” [modified from the “The Collections Management Competency Framework” (2016)].

●        Audience Focus. Starting from people’s needs and areas of interest programmes should engage the public reflecting at the same time the authority, truthfulness, and efficiency of any cultural institution.

●        Technical knowledge and practice. As for the different skills of each profession, it is important to ensure good practices and use current standards in any project as they are defined by national norms and European charts and codes of Ethics.

●        Communication. Creating communication and comprehension channels both for the working teams and the audience/user.

●        Contexts. Recognizing one’s own personal and professional responsibility for the ethical, legal and organizational aspects of any undertaken activity.

The Collections Management Competency Framework - defines the collections management skills and behaviours which a museum needs to develop, manage and sustain collections so that they can be used by the public.



The notion of “management” in cultural and heritage-related projects has become a necessity due to the fragility of cultural heritage, the high costs of cultural events and heritage asset maintenance, the lack or restriction of public funds and the requirements for high performance and professional treatment. Cultural and heritage management projects nowadays require interdisciplinary collaboration, expertise, good planning and a community-oriented (and often community-driven) incentive.