Cultural heritage studies examines, in a multidisciplinary manner, all preserved traces of the past that a certain community or a group of people considers to be valuable or to require protection. Cultural heritage includes anything consequential to the present. Therefore, research is not focused on the past, per se, as in archaeology, history and art history. By contrast, studies of cultural heritage reveal something about us, as modern people. Central concepts of the field include authenticity, memory, protection and tourism.
Debate on cultural heritage usually concerns the protection and preservation of a custom, building or landscape. This applies particularly well to the activities of public authorities. Most cultural heritage studies are oriented towards the functions of legislation and institutions applicable to cultural heritage and their consequences, or those of international institutions, such as UNESCO. The research also addresses unofficial cultural heritage, or things valued by certain population groups, families or even individuals. New research subjects include the cultural heritage experiences of experts and visitors to cultural heritage sites, as well as related feelings and the effects of cultural heritage on wellbeing.