Sarajevo’s War Childhood Museum Is Europe’s Museum of the Year

The 2018 Council of Europe Museum Prize was awarded to the War Childhood Museum in Sarajevo. The Culture Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, PACE, decided on the prize winner at a meeting in Budapest.

“The museum, which is deliberately apolitical, aims to fill in an existing gap in documenting war experiences from the child’s perspective and therefore expands its research and collection across Bosnia and Herzegovina, among diaspora living abroad and also globally, in cooperation with associations in Lebanon, Syria and Turkey. The judging panel praised the museum’s ‘real potential to serve as a powerful self-sustained model of civic initiative’ and said it offered an example that could be replicated in other major conflict and post-conflict zones in the world,” said PACE.

According to the rapporteur on the museum prize, Adele Gambaro, the War Childhood Museum is a truly inspiring example of a grassroots initiative led by a charismatic young person, Jasminko Halilovic, who was himself a child during the four-year war siege of Sarajevo. As part of his own “healing process”, he launched a short questionnaire on the internet in 2010 and collected over 1,000 replies, which were initially edited in a book and later presented in the Museum.

“Through powerful personal stories and objects associated with each story, this museum advocates peace, reconciliation and the value of cultural diversity.”

The Council of Europe Museum Prize has been awarded annually since 1977 to a museum judged to have made a significant contribution to the understanding of European cultural heritage. The winning museum is presented with a bronze statuette, “La femme aux beaux seins” by Joan Miró, which the museum keeps for a year.

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