Reflections on International Museum Day

This year’s International Museum Day theme is “Museums for Education and Research.” This aligns with the MEMENTOES mission, reflecting the role of museums not only as sites of culture, but also as forces for education which can play an important role in research and innovation. 

Our museum partners, the War Childhood Museum, Gulag.cz, and Le Bois Du Cazier, provide the project with their insights into how to create games for remembrance and social change. Thanks to their expertise, museum exhibition concepts and storytelling techniques are applied in the MEMENTOES games to raise awareness about historical injustices, engage audiences in meaningful and playful experiences, and empower societies to think critically about contemporary issues. 

We asked some of our museum partners to reflect on what the day means to them. Read on to hear their thoughts. 

The War Childhood Museum 

To celebrate International Museum Day, the War Childhood Museum is organising a series of activities on May 18 and 19, 2024, highlighting this year’s theme, “Museums for Education and Research.” Entrance to the museum’s permanent exhibition will be free of charge on both days. On May 18, a variety of creative workshops will be held, dedicated to different age groups, encouraging participants to explore and interact with the museum’s collection and stories in unique and creative ways. 

Senior citizens can join the “Portrait of My Life” art workshop, where they will use the dry pastel technique to create portraits of their lives. For younger visitors aged 8-10, the “We Build Stories from Lego Bricks” workshop will offer a chance to craft narratives and build happier worlds inspired by Boris’ Lego house from the museum’s collection, pictured in the image below. Teens aged 13-16 can participate in the workshop “Young Curators Guide You Through the Museum”, where they will design and film a guided tour, sharing youth’s perspective on the museum’s significance. The activities will also include a literature night in which some of the authors of the book “The Moment Peace Started for Me” will read their stories and then engage the audience in discussion on how much and in what way the theme of peace is represented in contemporary Bosnian and regional literature.  

The activities based on Boris’ Lego house refer to the following memory from the museum’s collection: 

The World We Imagined

Shelling meant spending time in either the basement, the hallway, the stairwell, or underneath the table in the dining room, which gave us a false sense of security. During shellings, I would be with my older sister, Ivana. We would play and sing together, be scared together, share the good moments and the bad together. We had some old toy bricks and a few toy cars, as well as these lego bricks and four game pieces from a “Ludo” board game.

In our imaginations, the blue bunny was dad, the red doe was mom, the yellow dog was sister and the green squirrel was brother. We would always share the toy bricks and cars so that everyone could build a house for their piece. Besides owning a house and a car, the pieces would also drive these cars and visit each other.

I remember that one of the toy cars was a convertible. Brother would always drive the convertible, visiting the family home together with his sister. They would drive around town and go anywhere and everywhere they wanted. Within that game, we had a world of our own, a beautiful world. We called the game “Figurines”.

Boris (m), b. 1986 (Bosnia-Herzegovina)

Gulag.cz 

To commemorate International Museum Day, we reflected on the role of museums in education. When it comes to the educational process, there’s no doubt that museums play a crucial role in enhancing and enriching learning experiences. They provide unique, immersive opportunities for students and the general public to engage with a diverse array of subjects, from history to science to arts and culture. The importance of museums in education lies in their ability to offer experiential learning, foster critical thinking, and bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and the real world. Although Gulag.cz is not a typical museum with physical exhibits, it fully embraces an educational role through a modern online exhibit that provides a glimpse into inaccessible places, supplemented by educational materials using state-of-the-art methods. 

In the coming months, our museum partners will offer more insights into their work with teachers and the potential of museums to impact education. Stay tuned by checking our website, social media pages, and signing up for our newsletter here: https://zcmp.eu/PUG 

Authors: Fernanda Flores, WCM, and Petra Burová, Gulag.cz

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the Research Executive Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.