What is Cultural Resource Management?

Have you ever visited a museum? Have you ever watched a historic building being restored? Have you ever read the interpretive signs in a national or state park? All of these things, and many more, are cultural resources. Cultural resources are all of the arts, beliefs, buildings, institutions, and other products of human work or thought that contribute to our overall sense of being. These objects generally have strong historical significance and are meaningful to individuals or groups who pass information and practices of the said object or place on to the next generation so that they may utilize it for their own benefit. A cultural resource can encompass many things including, but not limited to:

  • Native American Burial Mounds
  • Historically or Architecturally Significant Buildings
  • Historical Documents
  • Arrowheads
  • Paintings
  • Shipwrecks
  • Religious Sites
  • Historically Significant Sites
  • Clothing
  • Urban & Rural Historic Districts

Cultural resources assist in providing the vast inherited knowledge that helps make human beings what we are. The purpose of the field of Cultural Resource Management (CRM) is to appropriately study, preserve, and manage these resources so that they will survive for future generations.

The term Cultural Resource Management was first coined in the 1970s to refer mostly to archaeology. Since that time, the field has been greatly expanded. Today, cultural resource managers can also be historic preservationists, archivists, museum specialists, park specialists, educators, or public administrators (just to name a few) who play a role in preserving and/or managing these vast resources.