Children’s Cultural Heritage - the visual voices of the archive

Hands in white gloves holding children's drawings.
The knowledge that exists about children's cultural heritage and about how children are represented in cultural heritage institutions is today limited. The researchers in the project want to change that. Svenskt Barnbildarkiv

This project addresses the urgent task of exploring how to integrate Swedish children’s cultural heritage and make it an indisputable part of Swedish cultural heritage by asking: what rights do children have to their own cultural heritage? The focus is on how to collect, preserve and archive children’s own cultural expressions for the future.

At its best, cultural heritage should foster respect for cultural and social diversity and challenge taken-for-granted ideas about society. Critical heritage studies emphasises the need to include subaltern groups into nations’ cultural heritages to a greater extent. One such group is children. By approaching them as a subaltern group, children’s cultural heritage creates the opportunity to challenge taken-for-granted ideas within heritage studies, such as power relations, preservation strategies and what, and whose, heritage to preserve.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) states that children have a right to culture and “to participate freely in cultural life and the arts”, as does national Swedish cultural policy. However, little is known about children’s cultural heritage or their participation and representation in heritage institutions.

Children's visual voices

The aim is to explore how to collect, register, categorise, file, care for, preserve and display children’s cultural productions as sources of information about their social and cultural lives and living conditions through time. The proposed digitisation of children’s existing and new visual UNCRC materials covers a period of 30 years, starting with the Swedish ratification of the UNCRC and ending with its incorporation into Swedish law. In this way, the UNCRC data will be made digitally accessible, searchable and researchable so as to enable an exploration of the what, how, why and who of children’s cultural heritage. Children’s cultural heritage takes a critical theoretical approach that combines critical child studies, critical heritage studies and critical visual culture.  

The project is divided into four workpackages 

  • Metadata/taxonomy UNCRC – Inventory and theoretical exploration of the SACD’s standardised taxonomy system with the help of both children’s perspectives and a child perspective.
  • Digitisation and analyses of existing drawing collections focusing on UNCRC in the SACD archive focusing on children’s rights, equal value and children’s political participation.
  • Collecting, digitizing and analysing a new drawing collection and interviews emphasising the Swedish legislation incorporating the UNCRC.
  • Collecting, digitizing and analysing online images created by children. The collection of metadata and explorations of the ethics and preservation of children’s digital images.


The project is funded by the Swedish Research Council, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond  and Kungliga Vitterhetsakademin within the DIGARV program. The program promotes digitization and accessibility of cultural heritage collections, primarily in the humanities and social sciences.
Participating research projects/barns-kulturarv


Cover of publication ''
Anna Sparrman, Pål Aarsand (2022)

Nordic Journal of Cultural Policy , Vol.25 , s.201-217 Continue to DOI

The Research Team

Research Leader

Advisory Board

The project’s international advisory board consists of:

  • Ulrika Kjellman, Uppsala universitet
  • Pävi Venalainen, the Art Centre for Children and Young People's Archive i Finland
  • Marek Tesar, University of Auckland, Nya Zeeland
  • Natalie Coulter, York University, Canada

First physical advisory board meeting October 2022.

The project has an international advisory group that contributes important knowledge for the project.

LiU organisation