The concept of Art & Cultural property is often very narrowly construed. Many times, it is merely linked to museums, art and archaeological sites. However, Malta boasts a much more extensive legacy and this patrimony is usually found very close to home, in the same villages and towns which make up our abode. Our cultural landscape has been moulded by seven millennia of human activity. Many times, various aspects have conditioned Maltese culture and identity, including geological features, topography and the intricate resources of the land. This can be witnessed by various prehistoric unique temples; public structures adorned splendid works of art and remains by the Phoenician, Roman and Byzantine empires. Thereafter, modern Maltese architectural has been highly affected by the arrival of the knights of St John, and the lifting of the Great Siege of 1565, with baroque Malta seeing the building of fortifications, palaces, churches and private buildings in small cities and towns. All this, coupled to the work of renowned artist such has Caravaggio, Mattia Preti and Lorenzo Gafa has created a unique and authentic Maltese aesthetic that today defines most of our cultural property and assets. The modern era was then also further complemented with British styles and initiatives that took place during the 200 hundred when Malta was part of the British empire. Throughout all these years, Malta has woven a beautiful tapestry of Art & Cultural Property which bears witness to the island's rich history and heritage.
The Maltese Art & Cultural Property Industry
Malta’s cultural heritage primarily falls under the Cultural Heritage Act 2002. Prior to the promulgation of this Act, the local cultural heritage area was protected by the Antiquities Act of 1925. There are also other current national rules and regulations related to the conservation and protection of our cultural property. One should also keep in mind that several other characteristics of Malta’s cultural property are broadly recognized as public heritage of mankind, hence falling within the protection of international heritage systems and legislations.
The Cultural Heritage Act 2002 defines ‘cultural heritage’ as “movable and immovable objects of artistic, architectural, historical, archaeological, ethnographic, palaentological and geological importance and includes information or data relative to cultural heritage pertaining to Malta or to any other country. This includes archaeological, palaeontological or geological sites and deposits, landscapes, groups of buildings, as well as scientific collections, collections of art objects, manuscripts, books, published material, archives, audio-visual material and reproductions of any of the preceding, or collections of historical value, as well as intangible cultural assets comprising arts, traditions, customs and skills employed in the performing arts, in applied arts and in crafts and other intangible assets which have a historical, artistic or ethnographic value.
The main authority covering this areas is the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage whose mission is to fulfil the duties of the State in ensuring the protection and accessibility of Malta’s cultural heritage. The Authority acts under the general provision of the Cultural Heritage Act and as part of its remit, it issues policies and guidelines to cover this area.
Our Malta Art & Cultural Property Team
Enthusiastic and inspired about Art & Cultural property the main aim behind our Art & Cultural property team is to provide the artistic and creative industry with practical, legal advice and assistance. Our main expert areas in this regard include intellectual property law; contract law; estate and succession planning; dealing with counterfeit goods and litigation /resolution of disputes.
Our Art & Cultural Property services include advice related to:
- acquisitions, disposals and loans of art and artefacts
- agency and partnership agreements
- charities and foundations
- contract drafting and negotiation
- copyright, moral rights and related rights
- dispute resolution especially in cases of defective titles & provenance
- import/export or art and artefacts
- intellectual property planning
- insurance planning
- provenance, title and ownership issues
- tax planning and wills
- trusts and estate planning