Finalisation of seven museum projects for access and inclusion

Hundreds of people from the Western Balkans participated in different activities organized and implemented by members of the Balkan Museum Network in the last two years. Nenad Vukeljić from Zrenjanin (Serbia) is one of them. As a member of a local organization of blind and visually impaired people, Nenad participated in activities that he describes as rare and extremely important.

„It is very important for me to discover that someone tried and succeed in showing me something I cannot see and comprehend. (…) This museum made a big step towards better education of blind and visually impaired people,“ said Nenad after a workshop organized in the National Museum of Zrenjanin, Serbia.

Seven projects were completed in 2014, aimed at increasing the visibility of their museums, work and activities for various social groups. All the projects were funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the government of Sweden (as part of the Swedish International Development Cooperation) and managed by the foundation Cultural Heritage without Borders.

The National Museum of Zrenjanin implemented the project „Paint, present – Be a part of the community“ and has produced an audio guide for blind and visually impaired visitors and a video guide for deaf and hard of hearing visitors. The National Museum of Zrenjanin is the first museum in Serbia that has produced audio and video guides for disabled people. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Museum of Tešanj realised a project called „Children in Culture“. Mixed groups of children from Tešanj participated in pottery workshops. At the end of the project, a successful exhibition of art works made by children was organized in the museum. The Historical Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina produced a tactile exhibition with 10 artefacts, some of which are original artefacts and some are replicas. The project “Touch the History“ created a designated tactile area for visually impaired and blind persons. In order to make its work and premises accessible to disabled people, the Museum of Peja in Kosovo implemented a project titled “Close to the Cultural Heritage“. A series of workshops and presentations of the archaeological artefacts, as well as ethnological exhibits were organized for different age groups.

“These projects are breaking barriers in communication with disabled people,” said Gordana Grubački, an official translator for sign language, after the workshop in Zrenjanin.

“Mitrovica je t’aime” is a project which was implemented by the Museum of Mitrovica and which has raised the awareness among citizens about their culture and local history through interviews with citizens. The individuals that took part in the project were asked about the cultural diversity of the city, listing the places they like, their favourite food, favourite artists or sport teams from Mitrovica. At the end of the project a short video was produced and promoted on different media channels as well as in the Museum of Mitrovica.

“Returning the Memories of the Old Ohrid Fishing Boat“ has been implemented by the National Institute for Protection of Monuments of Culture and the Museum – Ohrid telling the story about the boat that was not only used for fishing, but also for transport, trade, weddings and even smuggling weapons and transporting troops during World War II. This project was focused on recording the history not just of the boat the process of its restoration, but of the time and place as well. Multimedia exhibitions have been held and audio and video materials for the blind and Deaf persons were produced to tell the stories and increase the knowledge of the history of the Ohrid region.