Matagorda County Museum Our Blog The Importance of Cultural Heritage

The Importance of Cultural Heritage

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Cultural heritage combines objects, places, stories and beliefs that create an identity and history of a culture. It can include both tangible (something you can see, like monuments and art) and intangible (something you cannot, such as traditions and languages). Cultural heritage reflects the values of a people and a community. It helps us to understand where we came from and where we are going.

Cultural heritage is important because it is a source of pride and inspiration for individuals and communities. It can be a basis for sustainable economic development by attracting visitors and tourists who support the preservation of intangible and tangible heritage. It can also be a source of social inclusion, promoting understanding of diverse cultures and fostering tolerance and respect between peoples.

However, the definition of what is considered as cultural heritage can change over time and is influenced by many factors. What an official entity – a government, museum or scholarly organisation – does or doesn’t designate as heritage may vary according to political, economic, religious or other influences. What an individual considers as heritage can also vary depending on personal background, privilege/marginalization, education and personal identity.

The concept of cultural heritage is complex and continually evolving. It is influenced by a variety of different factors, such as political or economic changes, social values and conflicting beliefs. It is also shaped by heritagisation and de-heritagisation processes, which can be motivated by a desire to assert a particular identity or to challenge an existing one.

It is therefore necessary to foster critical thinking in children from a young age, so they are aware of the complexities of the concept and can actively participate in heritagisation and de-heritagisation. This can be done through the use of activities designed to develop perception, investigation, conceptualisation, reasoning and translation skills. A number of educational tools are available for teachers, including UNESCO’s ‘Playing to Think with 4 to 5-Year-Old Children’ and the ‘Standards for the Teaching of Cultural Heritage in Primary School’.

Moreover, there is a growing desire for knowledge about other cultures. This can be attributed to globalisation, improved travel options and technological developments. In addition, a desire to experience and feel connected to other cultures and societies is encouraged by the growing popularity of “heritage tourism”.

A sustainable cultural heritage depends on local communities becoming stewards of their own heritage as well as providing opportunities for people from different backgrounds to engage with it. This can be achieved through education, training, and awareness-raising, including the promotion of intercultural dialogue and tolerance. It is also important to prevent the illicit trafficking, pillaging or destruction of cultural heritage by implementing national laws and international conventions.