The War Childhood Museum of Sarajevo has been awarded the 2018 Council of Europe Museum Prize. The museum was selected by the Culture Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) at a meeting in Budapest on Tuesday.
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.