Mattias Legnér

Professor at Department of Art History, Conservation

+4618-471 8331+46-498 108331
Visiting address:
Campus Gotland, Cramérgatan 3
621 57 Visby
Postal address:
Uppsala universitet, Campus Gotland
621 67 Visby

Short presentation

Mattias Legnér is Full Professor in Conservation at the Department of Art History, Uppsala Universitet – Campus Gotland, and Docent in History. In recent years he has published widely on matters of cultural heritage in armed conflicts, a topic he is also teaching in. His research also deals with relationships between historic environments, climate change and energy use.

Short introduction: "Cultural heritage – a target in armed conflict" (in Swedish)

Keywords: kulturvård väpnade konflikter cultural heritage museer war conservation conflict post-conflict reconstruction historic buildings world war ii beredskap thermal comfort energy use cultural property kulturegendom history of collections krig contingency climate adaptive reuse preparedness komfort museum history

Recorded lecture: "The protection and destruction of heritage: From the Second World War to the war in Ukraine", 1 December 2022.

Review of Legnér's monograph Values to safeguard. Conservation as a state interest in Norden at the time of the Second World War, i Ethnologia Fennica 49:2 (2022), pp. 199-201.

"Cultural heritage protection policies in Sweden: Breaks and continuities from the Second World War to the Russo-Ukrainian War", 8th Baltic Sea Region Cultural Heritage Forum, Gdánsk 12-13 September 2023

Post-conflict reconstruction of cultural heritage (2019)

For more information switch to the Swedish website.

Mattias Legnér took his PhD at Department of History, Stockholm University in 2004. He subsequently taught History at Gotland University (2003-06) and was a researcher at Culture and Society, Linköping University (2006-08). Legnér has also been a visiting scholar in the USA, first at Institute for Policy Studies, Johns Hopkins University (2007-08), and then as a STINT scholar at Department of History, Oberlin College (2010). As Full Professor in Conservation since 2013 he las c. 15 research projects with funding from the Swedish Research Council, the National Heritage Board, the Swedish Energy Agency, the Church of Sweden among other funders.

Legnér has researched the uses of cultural heritage following the Kosovo War in 1999, and how heritage was engaged for different uses in Scandinavia since the Second World War. He has recently published a monograph on cultural property protection, heritage destruction and cultural propaganda in the Nordic region before and during the Second World War: Värden att värna. Kulturminnesvård som statsintresse i Norden vid tiden för andra världskriget (Values to safeguard. Conservation as a state interest in Norden around the time of the Second World War), Makadam Förlag 2022. The book compares cultural property protection and uses of cultural heritage in the different Nordic states, with a focus on the development in Sweden.

Mattias Legnér's research also deals with how heritage buildings and collections have been valued, managed and cared for historically. This includes studies of legislation and the implementation of policies. Since 2010 he has led six large research projects funded by the Swedish Research Council, Swedish Energy Agency and Uppsala Universitet. In 2015-18 he led the "Research Node Cultural Heritage", which is a network of scholars and master students interested in heritage studies at Uppsala University.

Current research

Preparedness for the cultural heritage sector during alert and armed conflict. Funding from the National Heritage Board (Riksantikvarieämbetet), 2023-25, together with the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI).The purpose is to reach a deeper understanding of the conditions for protecting cultural heritage in the event of war, and to suggest improvements in contingency planning. The timing is critical for this project since some acto rs have initiated work to improve their preparedness. Today’s contingency planning is only partially adapted to function during war. How can planning for protecting cultural heritage in war be adapted to today’s heritage sector and a broader contingency planning? The project is divided into three parts that each covers an important area in the planning: 1) contextualization, 2) threat analysis and contingency planning, and 3) prioritization of protection.

Protection of religious heritage in Sweden in the event of armed conflict. Funding from Church of Sweden, 2023-24. The Church of Sweden and its organizational parts must, in accordance with the requirements of the Cultural Environment Act, make plans on how to manage and maintain the ecclesiastical heritage in the event of heightened preparedness and war. In this event the removal of valuable objects from the churches may also be relevant. According to Swedish regulations, the authorities have a key role to play in planning of these efforts. The purpose is to provide a current picture from a local perspective of how religious cultural heritage can be affected by armed conflicts. The study will result in recommendations on how a shared responsibility between the authorities and the Church of Sweden can and should look like, with clear roles and responsibilities. The recommendations should point to local measures that the parishes themselves can take to minimize the risks.

Renovation practices in abandoned homes: Improved conditions for careful energy efficiency measures. Funding from the Swedish Energy Agency, 2022-24, in cooperation with Chalmers Institute of Technology. There is a large stock of abandoned homes in Sweden that is increasingly attracting attention from municipalities and Boverket. The aim of this project is to gain new knowledge about the stock, how these houses can be taken into use again and what their potential for energy efficiency is. The project will draw conclusions on how more of theses houses can be taken into use again and become more energy efficient without damaging heritage values. A guideline will be produced that can give homeowners advice on how to think when planning the renovation of a formerly abandoned home.

Energy efficiency and cultural values in housing. How well do the policies function on the local level? Funding from the Swedish Energy Agency, 2020-24, in cooperation with Chalmers Institute of Technology.This project studies how policies for increased energy efficiency are implemented on a local level, and how they influence the decisions of actors in renovation processes. The purpose is to give valuable knowledge on how the building process, advice on energy use and renovation work in four municipalities, two of which are metropolitan areas. The objective is to contribute to a more systematic use of policies in order to increase the potential for saving energy while simultaneously preserving cultural values. The potential is to contribute to more renovation projects being carried out in a careful manner as a consequence of a more systematic application of policies.

The history of Gotland Museum. Wilhelmina von Hallwyls Gotlandsfond and other funders, 2022-23.

Finished projects (as project leader)

Protection of cultural heritage in the event of armed conflict. Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency and the National Heritage Board 2021-22.

Energy efficiency and cultural values in housing. How well do the policies work on the local level? Funded by the Swedish Energy Agency 2020-23.

Monumentskydd i Norden under andra världskriget. Carl Göran Adelswärds stiftelse, Magnus Bergvalls stiftelse, Brusewitz donationsfond, Wilhelmina von Hallwyls Gotlandsfond, 2018-21.

"An evaluation of previous policies on energy efficiency in buildings and their effects on energy use and historical values, Sweden 1974-2014." Funded by the Swedish Energy Agency 2015–2019.

"Attacks on cultural heritage: causes and consequences" Cooperative project with the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, Uppsala University. Internal grant 2016.

"Research Node Cultural Heritage" Internal grant 2016-18.

"An historical perspective of energy efficiency in buildings." Funded by the Swedish Energy Agency 2011-15.

Management plans for historically valuable buildings (pilot). Swedish National Heritage Board 2014.

"Cultural heritage and comfort. The issue of suitable indoor climate in historic buildings in the 20th century". Funded by the Swedish Research Council 2010-15.

Industrial heritage and historic environment policies in urban regeneration. Tema Q, Linköping University, post doc 2006-2008.

PhD supervision

2022- Elsa Bane, PhD candidate in Conservation, Uppsala universitet (primary supervisor)

2021- Susanna Carlsten, PhD candidate in Conservation, Uppsala Universitet (primary supervisor)

2018-22 Simona Bravaglieri, Ph.D. candidate in Architectural Preservation, Politecnico Di Milano, Italy (secondary supervisor)

2011–17 Mikael Hammelev Jörgensen, Ph.D. candidate in Conservation, Göteborg University (primary supervisor)

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Mattias Legnér