draft version

term lobbying
narrator Azra Akšamija
published 6 January 2016

Museum Solidarity Lobby


On October 4, 2012 the National Museum Bosnia-Herzegovina closed to public for the first time in its 125 years of existence. This cultural shutdown represents one of the still pertinent effects of the political framework sealed with the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the country's 1990s war. That agreement displaced ethnic conflict from the sphere or armed force to the sphere of culture, where new battles still take place over history and memory. Six other state-level institutions in Sarajevo, including the National Art Gallery, are also affected from an unresolved legal status, lack of funding and are also on the verge of shutting down. This cultural crisis has prompted an unprecedented solidarity among groups of all ages, ethnic and disciplinary backgrounds towards a collective effort to save cultural heritage in Bosnia-Herzegovina through new cultural forms and actions. I call this phenomenon "Museum Solidarity Lobby" (MSL). Pertinent to the Institutional Critique, the MSL is introducing a unique dimension: though MSL acknowledges the museum's institutional power structures and instrumentality in colonialist and nationalist projects, it does not see this history as annulling the possibility of envisioning the museum as a site in which we can begin to reclaim the lost notion of public virtue.