Ensuring public domain cultural property
In the fields of archaeology, archives, libraries, movable historical monuments and museums, the departments of the Ministry of Culture advise the owners of movable public property in their good conservation and, where possible, in their in situ security. They carry out both advisory and supervisory tasks with them.
Property of public interest from the point of view of history, art, archaeology, science or technology forms part of the public domain of the owner (State, local and regional authorities and their groups, public establishments), in application of the general code of ownership of public persons (Article L2112-1). They are national treasures under the Heritage Code (Article L111-1).
These include public archives and archives from private holdings in public collections; movable archaeological property that has become or remains public property; movable maritime cultural property; movable objects classified or inscribed under historical monuments, or located in a listed or registered building; movable objects of historical or artistic interest that have become or remain public property under the law of separation of churches and the State; collections of museums; works and objects of contemporary art acquired by the National Centre for Plastic Arts (CNAP) and those inscribed on the inventories of the National Fund of Contemporary Art (FNAC); collections of ancient, rare or precious documents of libraries; and public collections of the Mobilier national and the Manufacture nationale de Sèvres.
Unless they have been the subject of a formal decommissioning measure, such movable public property shall be inalienable and imprescriptible.
The prevention of theft is one of the main objectives of heritage services. In case of theft or disappearance and deliberate degradation, they recommend the filing of complaints and accompany the public owners in their requests for restitution and in their actions in claim, facilitating the identification of rediscovered cultural property and its return to its place of origin. Export controls also contribute to these identifications. The effectiveness of these actions is measured by the number of refunds, by amicable means or following judicial decisions, to their legitimate owners (State or local authorities) of these cultural goods, which have been stolen or disappeared for a long time