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Joined by our contributors to the collection, friends of the War Childhood Museum, and numerous local and foreign dignitaries, we marked the WCM’s sixth birthday at the National Theater of Sarajevo. The last night’s event offered our guests the opportunity to learn more about the most important results we achieved in 2022, while also serving as an introduction to the War Childhood Museum’s birthday week which will be held from February 20 to 26.

Outside of the National theater, with WCM 6 banners hanging on each side
Interior of the National Theater, with focus on stage and the audience

Despite the difficult circumstances of working amid Russian invasion against Ukraine, 2022 was a very successful and rewarding year for the WCM – only in BiH we opened three new temporary exhibitions, held over 200 educational programs for children, which involved development of new methodologies of working with our youngest visitors, and equipped and re-organized our new archival space. Furthermore, over 20.000 people visited the WCM, including 5.000 children in school visits.

Whether we are discussing how to enhance peacebuilding and transitional justice processes, or any related process, the WCM’s strength lies in its dedication to center personal, children’s perspectives. In regards to this, we want to create as many opportunities for individuals to contribute to the expansion of the WCM’s collection, enabling them to become the co-creators of the content we present to the wider public together.

Amina KrvavacWCM Executive Director

Following the evacuation of the WCM Ukraine team and collection from Kyiv, the WCM produced one of its most significant exhibitions yet, titled „LISTEN“ – LISTEN centers on stories from Ukraine, while presenting wartime experiences of children from many different countries. This exhibition was showcased in Serbia, Kosova, Czech Republic, France, and the Netherlands. In Prague, LISTEN was on view during the largest museum conference in the world, that also featured a presentation by the WCM’s Founder, Jasminko Halilovic, at one of the 5 main panel sessions. Meanwhile, the exhibition’s showing in Strasbourg, at the Council of Europe, was held during the week of the plenary session of the CoE Parliamentary Assembly.

“The war in Ukraine is still ongoing. At such times, we are perhaps most forcefully reminded that we are small, our impact limited. But we will continue doing what we can. As an organization, we will remain dedicated to Ukraine, and I am happy to announce that the War Childhood Museum plans to open a permanent exhibition in Kyiv, as soon as the circumstances allow it. Until then, we will continue being a voice of Ukrainian community in Europe. We are, at the moment, preparing the opening of our new exhibition in Bucharest, in May,” said Jasminko Halilovic, the WCM’s Founder and CEO. Following Halilovic’s opening remarks, different aspects of the War Childhood Museum’s work were presented by WCM’s Executive Director, Amina Krvavac, WCM Ukraine Director, Svitlana Osipchuk, Educational Activities Coordinator, Merima Razanica, and Collection Manager, Fernanda Flores

After two days of travel, the Director of WCM Ukraine office, Svitlana Osipchuk, arrived in Sarajevo for the event – under normal circumstances, the same route would have taken only a few hours. Despite all the obstacles, the WCM Ukraine team has continued working since the beginning of the invasion, organizing and holding online workshops and different activities aimed at providing support to the children and their parents. Osipchuk stated how the experience of working under wartime circumstances taught her that the team is vital, even more so when people work from different places. “My colleagues have had to continue their lives in countries across the world. Despite all, they remain professional, strong, and committed to our cause of making stories of Ukrainian war childhood visible. I am beyond thankful to our colleagues in Sarajevo for everything that they do for children of Ukraine, and all war children,” stated Osipchuk.

Aurelie Valtat, address
Oleksandra Matviichuk, address
Sofija Todorovic, address

Importance of empathy and solidarity, and of exchanging good practices, was in the focus of the video address by Oleksandra Matviichuk, Head of Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties (CLC), the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate for 2022, but also the speech delivered by Sofija Todorovic, the Program Director of YIHR Serbia. Todorovic reflected on the WCM’s exhibition in Belgrade last year, that is to say the significance of the War Childhood Museum’s regional presence and dedication to presenting stories of children from BiH, Croatia, Kosovo, but also other countries in Serbia.

The marking of the War Childhood Museum’s sixth birthday was realized in cooperation with the EU Delegation to BiH and with the support of the Ambassador Johann Sattler, Head of EU Delegation and EU Special Representative. Speaking at the event last night on behalf of the EU Delegation was Aurélie Valtat, Head of European integration, Political, Economic and Press.

One of the last year’s activities, that included the making of a new children’s corner, as well as interactive installations for visitors that will soon become a part of the permanent exhibition, was supported by the Sarajevo Canton.

The Minister of Culture and Sports of Sarajevo Canton, Samir Avdic, expressed congratulations on our six years of successful work on behalf of the Ministry, emphasizing the importance of the War Childhood Museum’s work, and its contribution to BiH cultural scene.


Minister addressing the guests

The impact of this Museum is also measured by its ability to bring in significant international funds for BiH culture. Only last year, these funds amounted to over 1 million BAM, allowing for opening of new work places in BiH cultural sector.

Samir AvdicMinister of Culture and Sports of Sarajevo Canton

The program concluded with the performance by the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Samra Gulamović. The Orchestra performed Valentin Silvestrov’s “Prayer for Ukraine”, and the first movement of Edvard Grieg’s “Holberg Suite”. We are delighted that this event allowed us to strengthen the bonds we share with our friends, partners, donors, and contributors to the collection even further – see the gallery below for the glimpse of the last night’s atmosphere.