18.06.2012 - UNESCO Venice Office

Preparing for Imagining the Balkans, the Exhibit that will travel the South East European region

©National History Museum of Romania website

The UNESCO Venice Office is organizing, in cooperation with the National History Museum of Romania, and with the support of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of Romania a fifth regional meeting of South-East European National History Museums from 20-21 June 2012 in Bucharest (Romania). The Meeting comes as a follow-up to the previous encounters organized in Greece, Germany, Italy and Slovenia since 2010, to enhance cooperation and dialogue among the South-East European national history museums.

This meeting is part of the global initiative “Culture: a bridge to Development” launched by the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, in order to enhance regional cultural exchanges and networks in the South-East European region.

On the occasion of the last two meetings, discussion was drawn more in depth to the contents and organization for a travelling exhibit - tentatively entitled “Imagining the Balkans”. The exhibit will be designed to sustain dialogue and cooperation among museums of the region and enhance a shared reflection on nations-building processes, the transformation of cultural and social practices, and the construction of a European identity and of shared memories. The chronological frame would be the “long 19th century”, starting from around the French revolution and ending with the end of World War 1.

Based on the discussions in Ljubljana, and in view of this meeting in Bucharest, each partner museum reviewed, amended and finalized a selection of 10 items – whether photos, pictures, sculptures, drawings, texts, maps, films, musical recordings, paintings, artifacts, etc -, together with all their relevant information and meta-data, including their historical relevance and repercussions on the project subject. The item selection was focused around 9 thematic chapters: Living in the old world; Travelling, communicating; A new social order: the rise of the middle classes; Creating and diffusing knowledge; Mapping; Using history; Heroes and Antiheroes; Public celebrations; Images of the Nation. The chapters will be completed by a thematic introduction around Coffee culture and a conclusion around the theme/film “Whose is this song?”.

The event will comprise museum directors and experts from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Turkey. Are also invited senior representatives from European museums (German Historical Museum in Berlin, Germany) and professional organizations (ICOM/International Committee for Exhibitions and Exchange; ICOM/International Association of Museums of History).

The National Museum of Slovenia confirmed its willingness to host and inaugurate the first “station” of the travelling exhibit, during the spring 2013, hopefully in conjunction with the meeting of the Council of Ministers of Culture of the SEE region, placed in 2013 under Slovenian presidency.

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