War Childhood Museum, Sarajevo, wins 2018 Museum Prize

The 2018 Council of Europe Museum Prize has been awarded to the War Childhood Museum, Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina).

The museum was selected by the Culture Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) at a meeting in Budapest today.

According to the rapporteur on the Museum Prize, Adele Gambaro (Italy, FDG), the 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”, in 2010 he launched a short questionnaire on the internet and collected over 1,000 replies, which were initially edited in a book and later presented in this museum. Through powerful personal stories and objects associated with each story, this museum advocates peace, reconciliation and the value of cultural diversity.

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 co-operation 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.

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 will be presented with a bronze statuette, “La femme aux beaux seins” by Joan Miró, which the museum will keep for a year, together with a diploma.

The prize is decided on the basis of three proposals presented by a jury of the European Museum Forum, and forms part of the European Museum of the Year Awards.

Recent winners of the prize include the Caribbean Centre of Expressions and Memory of the Slave Trade and Slavery in Guadeloupe, France (2017), the European Solidarity Centre in Gdansk, Poland (2016), and the MUCEM in Marseille, France (2015).