War Childhood Museum
Based on the crowd-sourced book War Childhood and founded on the principles of social entrepreneurship, the independent, youth-led War Childhood Museum has garnered recognition as the world’s only museum focused exclusively on childhoods that have been affected by war.
Through its unique platform, the WCM is able to tackle trauma on an individual level for participants and visitors – ultimately contributing to better understanding for society on the whole. Its first permanent exhibition opened in January 2017, seven years after the project’s inception, in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Having proven successful in providing Bosnians of all ages with a rare opportunity to confront the traumas of their recent past without reinforcing ethnic boundaries, the WCM has expanded its activities abroad. Currently, WCM operates in Lebanon, Ukraine, and the United States – becoming an international platform that gives voice to current and former war children.
Its quick growth aggregated a lot of attention and facilitated collaboration between WCM and some of the world’s leading universities. WCM has had the privilege of presenting at the largest peace-building, youth, and museum conferences. Its efforts have received media coverage from New York City to Tokyo.
The 2018 Council of Europe Museum Prize – one of the most prestigious awards in the museum industry – has been awarded to the War Childhood Museum as part of the European Museum of the Year Awards.
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What are we collecting?
Everyone has an item that reminds them of their childhood; so do people whose childhoods were affected by war. The War Childhood Museum collects artifacts, from favorite books and an improvised dress to toys, that war survivors have saved to this day. For us, even more important and valuable than the items themselves are the personal experiences of their owners. This is why every item is accompanied by a unique personal story.
In addition to collecting wartime memorabilia, War Childhood Museum is also setting up an archive containing audio and video testimonies of project participants. They include information about the everyday family life, housing, living conditions, proximate danger, experience with shelling and sniper fire, experience of displacement and life as a refugee, schooling, play and games, friendships, leisure time, health, wounding and significant losses during the wartime.
We are collecting items and stories and filming video testimonies with the aim of exploring the experience of growing up in war. After we have collected over 4000 items from all parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina and filmed over 100 hours of video testimonies, we plan to continue our work by documenting the experience of war childhood in other countries as well. Our goal for the next ten years is to create the world’s largest collection dedicated to the experience of growing up in war.
After several temporary exhibitions in 2016, the War Childhood Museum opened its doors in in January 2017 in the historical heart of Sarajevo. The Museum will organize thematic exhibitions as well and exhibit in other museums and galleries around the world. Besides its permanent exhibition, the War Childhood Museum also exhibits through social media, web site, mobile app and other media.
We are creating and implementing educational materials with the aim of raising the awareness about the importance of peace for the future generations. Besides hosting school visits at the Museum, our staff holds workshops in schools across the Bosnia and Herzegovina, and also cooperates with teachers to encourage the use of our educational materials among a larger number of students. Only in the first six months of 2017 the War Childhood Museum has worked with more than 5000 children.