Improve a heritage site - Norwegian Heritage Association

Simen Bjørgen

Norwegian Heritage Association

Vagavegen 35 2680 Vaga

Vaga, Norway
EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award 2012 - Education, training and awareness-raising (Grand Prix)

Improve a heritage site

Brief description of the project

Norwegian Heritage Foundation  (NHF) has developed the project la"Improve a Heritage Sitera": Educational and awareness-raising work amongst children and young people up to 18 years all over Norway. They have become inspired to rehabilitate, mend, tidy, make visible and spread knowledge about a heritage site in the neighbourhood surroundings in order to maintain heritage sites and culture monuments and strengthen the cultural competence of children and youth; and at the same time provide knowledge to other groups of people in the community about the local history so that they can experience a stronger identity to their homeplace.


Norwegian Heritage Foundation (NHF) has since 2000 developed a nationwide action/project in Norway where groups of children and young people improve/rehabilitate a heritage site of cultural monument, make it accessible and spread knowledge about it to others in the community. In this way children and young people learn about the cultural heritage at their homeplace and do practical work mending the heritage site/monument or cultural landscape, thus preventing it from being destroyed or vanish. The physical activity is healthy, and the increased historical knowledge during the project is meaningful in respect of education, awareness-raising, local identity and mastering a task.
Implemention of the project

Children and young people up to 18 years of age have been invited by NHF through schools, Network of environment in schools, historical organizations, sport clubs and other youth clubs to adopt a heritage site, cultural monument or historic place/path/road in their local community and make a project to improve, rehabilitate and spread information about it. Good routines have been established, and digital tools for applications and reports are made. Each group is lead and educated by teachers or historical experts who put the heritage site in a historic context.


The results of la"Improve a Heritage Sitera" are overwhelming when you know that Norway has only five million habitants. Since year 2000 when the first activities startet 1 128 heritage sites have been rehabilitated. More than 22 500 children and young people have been involved in the improvement work, and about 160 000 hours have been spent in actual and physical work at the heritage sites. Information about the heritage sites in the project has been spread to several hundred thousand people.


Annual costs related to the implementation of the project during the latest years have been about NOK 10 964 000 per year which to day is approxemately 1 460 000 Euro.

European context

NHF thinks projects like this are of great importance for the understanding of preserving cultural heritage for the future - locally, nationally, European and world wide. The long term impact will both be significant for preserving the local heritage site as such and perhaps equally important giving the children and young peolpe a perspective on their heritage and a lifelong education and understanding of history. NHF means that a project like la"Improve a heritage sitera" most sucsessfully can be copied and adopted in all countries of Europe since all countries have children, schools, organizations and many heritage sites that need improvement, clearing, mending and rehabilitation.

Community impact

As the project has developed, the spreading of information to the rest of the schools, pupils and people from the local communities has increased in number and quality. Leading signposts and information boards show the way and history of the heritage sites. Pictures and films are published on internet at Plays are performed for parents and other local groups.

Since so many groups from schools have been participating in the local projects, immigrant children have been learning about the Norwegian heritage in a visual and practical way. In this respect the project also can be said to be a project of integration of immigrants. As the results of the children's work often are presented to the parents, this generation is educated in Norwegian cultural heritage and thus strengthening the identity and bond to their new homeland. The project has thus contributed to an intercultural dialogue and to the protection of cultural diversity.


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