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Špela Spanžel appointed as Acting Director-General of the Cultural Heritage Directorate

Špela Spanžel, an art historian, curator and cultural heritage expert, became the new head of the Directorate for Cultural Heritage on 17 June of this year.
Portrait of the new head of the Directorate for Cultural Heritage

Špela Spanžel | Author Peter Rauch

At the Ministry of Culture she has coordinated several nominations for the UNESCO World Heritage List (the prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps, the mercury heritage sites in Almadén and Idrija), and the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (the Škofja Loka passion play, lacemaking, and beekeeping in Slovenia, the eight-country project of Lipizzaner horse-breeding traditions). She also led the nomination of the works of architect Jože Plečnik in Ljubljana, which were added to the global heritage list in July 2021 as an example of human-centred urban design. The interdisciplinary group that worked on the nomination was awarded the Plečnik medal in May 2022 for their contribution to the enrichment of architectural culture.

She is a member of numerous expert groups and intergovernmental committees at UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the EU, and has helped in the preparation of a number of documents and policies of international importance in the area of cultural heritage. At the invitation of the World Heritage Centre she provided her expertise in the design and implementation of reforms to the global heritage system, and is a regular collaborator on its consultative bodies, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM). She is an active member of the editorial board of the 2018 Davos Declaration on a high-quality Baukultur and a quality system, which began operation in the spring of 2021. She helped to create the Building Europe: Towards a Culture of High-Quality Architecture and Built Environment for Everyone conference, which was held in Graz and Maribor in October 2021 during Slovenia’s presidency of the Council of the EU, organised by Slovenia’s chamber of architecture and spatial planning and its partners.

During Plečnik Year 2022 she has participated in a series of contemporary presentations and reflections on the architect’s work, including as a member of the advisory committee for this year’s BIO 27: Supervernacular design biennial at the Museum of Architecture and Design, and as the cocurator of exhibitions of Plečnik’s work in Ljubljana (human-centred urban design at the Museum of Architecture and Design, and Plečnik and modernity: a glossary at the Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana).

Since 2007 she has been employed at the Directorate for Cultural Heritage at the culture ministry, which she also headed between May 2013 and February 2015.