Shared Cultural Heritage Programme

The Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands is endeavouring to create favourable conditions for the sustainable conservation of shared heritage in an ever-changing society. The Shared Cultural Heritage Programme promotes international cooperation and the exchange of knowledge.

Zicht op de voormalige VOC-handelspost in Hirado in Japan
Image: RCE
VOC trading post, Hirado, Japan

Objectives of the Shared Cultural Heritage Programme

Shared cultural heritage is one of the priorities of the Netherlands’ international cultural policy, which is a responsibility of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The two ministries use the International Cultural Policy Framework 2017-2020 to provide guidance to efforts in the field of shared cultural heritage. The main objectives are:

  • a strong cultural sector, where international exchange and sustainable cooperation ensure increasingly higher quality, and which is recognised and valued abroad
  • more room for the arts to contribute to a safe, just, future-proof world
  • culture will be used effectively as a tool of modern diplomacy 

Shared heritage has been appointed as a specific priority within the international cultural policy. The Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands has been tasked with implementing activities relating to this specific priority. To this end, the Agency has set up its Shared Cultural Heritage Programme (in Dutch: Programma Gedeeld Cultureel Erfgoed).


The assignment concerning shared cultural heritage will be carried out by the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, the National Archives of the Netherlands, DutchCulture and the Dutch embassies in the partner countries. They collaborate with experts and organisations to expand the pool of knowledge on the topic of shared cultural heritage. We find these partners both in the Netherlands and further afield, varying from international networks, governments and heritage experts to universities, local businesses and private citizens.

Although the history of the Netherlands is connected with many countries, the Cultural Heritage Agency has restricted the collaboration with ten partner countries due to limited resources. For this policy term (2017-2020), the agency will collaborate with the following countries within the shared cultural policy framework:

Australia, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname and the United States.

What does the Cultural Heritage Agency do?

The Cultural Heritage Agency supports local experts in partner countries by promoting knowledge exchange and capacity building. The instruments that the Agency uses are training, advice and knowledge products such as handbooks and inventories.


By providing training and workshops in cooperation with international institutes and regional and local stakeholders, the Agency contributes to the professional development of experts in the partner countries and in the Netherlands. Training takes place in the Netherlands or in a partner country and can be organised on both a bilateral and a multilateral basis.


The Agency provides tailored advice to local governments and other stakeholders in partner countries, thus supporting them in realising their own ambitions in the field of shared cultural heritage. This generally involves bilateral and long-term cooperation at the partner country’s request.

Knowledge products

The issues and challenges that emerge from our advisory and training activities are used to develop generic knowledge products in the form of handbooks and guidelines. Examples include a manual for the climatization of museum depots, an inventory of Dutch-Japanese heritage, and a book on rezoning and redevelopment in the Netherlands.

Three main themes

In line with the Agency’s range of activities, we focus on tangible heritage and in particular on built and archaeological heritage, landscapes and museum collections. Based on the needs and wants of local experts in partner countries and the available expertise at the Agency, we bundle our activities around three main themes: