Valuing Cultural Heritage

Valuing Cultural Heritage

Applying Environmental Valuation Techniques to Historic Buildings, Monuments and Artifacts

Edited by Ståle Navrud and Richard C. Ready

What value do we place on our cultural heritage, and to what extent should we preserve historic and culturally important sites and artefacts from the ravages of weather, pollution, development and use by the general public? This innovative book attempts to answer these important questions by exploring how non-market valuation techniques – used extensively in environmental economics – can be applied to cultural heritage. The book includes twelve comprehensive case studies that estimate public values for a diverse set of cultural goods, including English cathedrals, Bulgarian monasteries, rock paintings in Canada, statues in the US, and a medieval city in Africa.

Chapter 3: Social Costs and Benefits of Preserving and Restoring the Nidaros Cathedral

Ståle Navrud and Jon Strand

Subjects: environment, environmental sociology, politics and public policy, public policy


Ståle Navrud and Jon Strand INTRODUCTION The main purpose of this study was to elicit the value of protecting and restoring the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway, which is the oldest medieval building in Scandinavia. Thus, a contingent valuation (CV) survey of visitors to the cathedral was carried out in the summer of 1991. This valuation exercise is of interest for several reasons. First, the Nidaros Cathedral is a major, and perhaps even the most important, cultural monument in Norway. A value of this monument may serve as a benchmark against which other Norwegian and international monuments can be valued, especially at the time of the study since this was one of the very first applications of CV to cultural heritage. Second, by its design, the study provides information about the relative value of retaining the cathedral in its present state, versus restoring it in the future. Almost certainly, the value of the latter alternative will provide a lower bound for the value of the former. Restoring the cathedral is in principle always an actual future option (given that it is not completely deteriorated), while retaining it in the present state is not, whenever further future damage will be inflicted. Third, the study provides information on methodological aspects of the CV method in an area of application where few studies had been conducted at the time. This in particular concerns embedding and scope, which deal with the question of whether respondents are able to identify their value of one...

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