Protecting movable objects as historic monuments
The protection of movable objects under historical monuments is a public utility easement. There are two levels of protection for historic monuments: inscription and classification. In both cases, the protection must be justified by the interest of the movable object concerned in terms of history, art, science or technology. Registration is the first level of protection and the highest classification.
- The balance of protection
- The conditions of protection
- The protection procedure
- The effects of protection
The balance of protection
On 1er January 2021, more than 260,000 movable objects are protected as historic monuments, including more than 120,000 classified (since 1891) and nearly 140,000 registered (since 1970).
The annual review of the protection of movable objects under historical monuments (key figures) provides a state of protection in terms of statistics, typologies, dating, nature of the owners.
The conditions of protection
Protection under historic monuments may concern movable objects of all types (painting, sculpture, furniture, textiles, goldsmiths, musical instruments, industrial, scientific and technical heritage, etc.) and any time. Thus, the industrial, scientific and technical heritage takes an increasingly important place among the protected heritage, just as the heritage of the XIXe and XXe centuries.
The movable effects attached to perpetual remains (namely the movable objects which are, according to article 525 of the Civil Code, ' plaster or lime or cement seals to a building, or, which cannot be detached from it without being fractured or deteriorated, or without breaking or deteriorating the part of the floor to which they are attached ") constitute buildings by purpose and are protected under historic monuments as movable objects.
Thehistorical, artistic, scientific or technical interest of the movable object constitutes the determining criterion of protection. The registration measure is decided at regional level (decision of the regional prefect after the Regional Heritage and Architecture Commission) while the classification is decided at national level (decision of the Minister of Culture after National Heritage and Architecture Commission).
With regard to these criteria and conditions, the heritage value of a movable object is assessed in particular on the basis of its artistic or technical quality, authenticity, integrity, rarity, exemplarity, representativeness in relation to a corpus or type.
However, protection for historical monuments is not intended to apply to the most recent movable objects created less than 50 years ago. The protection of historic monuments is, in principle, irreversible and requires sufficient historical hindsight.
A collection or collection of movable objects of high heritage interest from the point of view of history, art, architecture, archaeology, ethnology, science, or technology, and whose preservation of integrity and coherence is of public interest, may be classified as a historic furniture set. These links can be historical, functional or aesthetic; the circumstances of the creation or constitution of the historical furniture, but also its state of integrity, must be documented so that it can be recognized as such.
Where there are particularly strong historical or artistic links between a listed movable object (or a listed movable historical complex) and the listed building housing it, a maintenance easement in the premises may be instituted, in order to guarantee the preservation of the object or the whole within its original framework.
The protection procedure
The request for protection under historical monuments may come from the owner of the property, the assignee, or any person having an interest in it (local authority, association for the defence of heritage, etc.). The initiative of a protection can also come from the services of the prefect of region (regional directorate of cultural affairs) or the Minister of Culture (directorate general of heritage and architecture).
Requests for classification or registration of movable objects under historical monuments should be addressed to the regional prefect (regional directorate of cultural affairs). They must be accompanied by a description of the movable object, as well as photographs showing its historical, artistic, scientific or technical interest and, as far as possible, elements relating to its history and realization.
Theregistration for historical monuments is decided by regional prefect’s decree, after notice of the regional committee heritage and architecture. The owner’s agreement is necessary for the inscription of private movable objects.
The ranking under the title of historical monuments is decided by order of the Minister of Culture, after notice of the National Commission heritage and architecture, preceded by a wish of the regional heritage and architecture commission, and in the light of the owner’s agreement. In the absence of agreement of the owner, the classification of a movable object can be pronounced by decree in the Council of State, but this procedure remains exceptional.
Where the conservation of a movable object of heritage interest or its maintenance on the national territory is threatened, a filing authority under the title of historical monuments may be taken by the Minister of Culture. This decision places the property under the classification system for twelve months, giving the State services time to examine the advisability of a final protection decision (registration or classification). This is an exceptional precautionary measure.
The classification as historical set furniture is decided by order of the Minister of Culture, in the light of the owner’s agreement, after consulting the National Commission of Heritage and Architecture, preceded by a first-level opinion of the Regional Commission of Heritage and Architecture. If the owner does not agree, a historical set of furniture can be classified by decree in the Council of State. All classification effects apply to each movable object in the set.
One maintenance easement in the premises a classified movable object or a classified movable historical complex in a classified building is decided by order of the Minister of Culture, in the light of the owner’s agreement, after the opinion of the National Commission of Heritage and Architecture, preceded by a first-level opinion from the Regional Committee on Heritage and Architecture.
The effects of protection
The owner is responsible for the conservation of the movable object protected under the title of the historical monuments belonging to him.
In the case of sale, the private owner of a movable object protected under the title of historical monuments is obliged to inform the new purchaser of the existence of the easement for filing or registration, and to inform the prefect of the region within fifteen days.
Classified movable objects belonging to the State are inalienable. Classified movable objects belonging to a public person other than the State (local authority, public establishment) may be disposed of only after authorization by the regional prefect and for the benefit of another public person. Movable objects classified or registered belonging to a public person, national treasures, are part of its movable public domain.
All classified movable objects are imprescriptible and permanent export bans.
Apart from routine maintenance work, theclassified movable object under the title of historical monuments cannot be the subject of works without authorization issued by the regional prefect. Authorized work is performed under the scientific and technical inspection (CSE) State departments responsible for historical monuments, which are carried out from the beginning of the preparatory documentary and technical studies and throughout the work until completion. The terms of reference for the planned intervention may be drawn up in conjunction with the State services in charge of historical monuments, which are informed of any project of study or intervention on classified movable objects.
The State may give formal notice any local authority failing to carry out the work which has become indispensable to ensure the preservation of a classified movable object, or to request its temporary transfer. In the event of inaction, the prefect of the region may initiate a procedure for the automatic recording of the corresponding expenditure in the budget of the local authority concerned in order to guarantee the restoration of the object whose conservation is endangered.
Apart from routine maintenance work, thelisted personal property cannot be the subject of work without preliminary declaration. Work is performed under scientific and technical inspection (CST) which is carried out throughout the work until its completion.
Movements of classified and inscribed movable objects are subject to a preliminary declarationeven without a change of ownership or for a temporary loan or exhibition and, for public property, under the scientific and technical control of the State departments responsible for historic monuments. The removal of classified or registered movable objects belonging to private owners may take place, at their request, with the technical assistance of the State services responsible for historic monuments.
At least every five years, classified movable objects shall be proofing (control of the presence and conditions of conservation) by the departments responsible for historic monuments, in connection with curators of antiquities and works of art.