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The idea, mission and vision of The War Childhood Museum

During the two and a half years of working on the book ‘War Childhood: Sarajevo 1992 – 1995,’ I had the chance to meet hundreds of participants and hear their stories and testimonies. I learned that growing up in a war is complex, insufficiently researched and universal experience. Many of participants described or showed their war memories to me: personal items, photographs, diaries, letters, drawings and other documents. Twenty years after the war, a large number of these were lost during relocation, accidentally thrown away or permanently damaged. In May 2012, I wrote the first draft of the concept of ‘War Childhood Museum.’ My dream was to store these memories in a museum in order to preserve them permanently.

Three years later, in May 2015, the process of creating the Museum has officially started. Few months after, the collection already contains hundreds of items and documents. The creation of this Museum is important, not only for permanent preservation of memories of war childhood, but also because the Museum will, unlike other war museums, document the experience of those who played no role in the start of the war, and still suffered multiple consequences. Children’s stories are particularly important for their potential and suitability to serve as a basis for advancing mutual understanding, which is essential for the reconciliation process. Ten years after the opening, the War Childhood Museum in Sarajevo will be the world’s largest archive dedicated to the experience of growing up during the war.

The mission of the War Childhood Museum is to continuously and in accordance to the highest standards document and digitize materials related to growing up in the war, and to present the archived materials throughout various media channels in order to educate a broad audience about this experience.

The vision of the War Childhood Museum is to help individuals overcome past traumatic experiences and prevent traumatization of others, and at the same time advance mutual understanding at the collective level in order to enhance personal and social development.

In the opening statement of the book ‘War Childhood,’ I wrote that I hope the book would help in better understanding of this specific experience, but also that it would contribute to raising awareness of adults about their responsibility to create a better world for children. I hope that the War Childhood Museum will do more than that.

Sarajevo, 27th July 2015

Initiator and director of the War Childhood Museum,
Jasminko Halilović