11.30 Musealization of Religious Heritage in the French Legal Context: A Process in Progress?
In the French legal context, religious heritage is undeniably characterized by its legally protected religious meaning. This protection derives from a set of texts adopted at the very beginning of the twentieth century, including the 1905 Act of Separation of Church and State. For a long time, the religious dimension has prevailed over any other type of uses of the church buildings. The musealization of religious heritage is far from being obvious, due to the weight of the general legal regime of church buildings. For example, a reluctance to put an end to the religious dimension of those buildings can be observed. However, due to the increasing cultural interest and the related practices taking place in church buildings, the cohabitation had to be organized between two competing uses of one unique—religious—space. The passing of a new Act in 2006 addressing, among others, the issue of cultural uses in church buildings aims at overcoming the tensions between religious and secular/cultural uses and might pave the way to a new approach to religious heritage management. It remains that church buildings are still considered first and foremost as places of worship rather than as religious heritage.