To representatives of museums and galleries worldwide:
I ask you to participate in an important international cultural awareness campaign. This campaign is a reaction to the acute crisis affecting major cultural institutions in Bosnia-Herzegovina. On October 4, 2012, after 124 years of existence, the country’s National Museum (Zemaljski Muzej) closed down due to the government’s failure to secure legal status and adequate funding. Your solidarity is needed!
Six other state-level institutions, including the National Art Gallery (Umjetnička Galerija BH) and the National and University Library (Nacionalna i Univerzitetska Biblioteka BH) are also about to become permanently inaccessible. The safety of precious artifacts and heritage are at stake.
Why am I doing this? I am one of the founding members of the platform CULTURESHUTDOWN, an international initiative connecting scholars, artists and cultural producers responding to this crisis. Cultural institutions in Bosnia-Herzegovina are keepers of the unique historical and cultural treasures that provide evidence of coexistence in the region. Preserving them is crucial for securing a sustainable peace. Artifacts kept in these institutions are an important component of the world’s cultural heritage. Preserving them is a matter of global relevance.
I call on you and other museums across the globe to demonstrate your solidarity with threatened Bosnian cultural institutions by symbolically “erasing” one precious artwork or artifact, rendering it inaccessible for the Day of Museum Solidarity. How? On March 1, I ask you to place the yellow barricade tape in front of the chosen object (ranging from a dinosaurs skeleton to a painting, depending on your collection and your choice). I will provide this custom-designed non-adhesive tape featuring the CULTURESHUTDOWN logo. Take a picture of the “crossed out” object and send it to me. The “crossed out” artifact should be publicly visible in your institution from March 1 – 3. The collected pictures of Museum Solidarity across the world will be posted on the CULTURESHUTDOWN website on Monday March 4, the scheduled Day of Museum Solidarity. As many museums are closed on Mondays, our global campaign will take the form of a virtual collective exhibition on CULTURESHUTDOWN website. We would appreciate it if you were to post images of this campaign or host this virtual group exhibition on your institutions’ website, should that be possible.
February 1, the date of this public call, marks the 125th Anniversary of Zemaljski Muzej’s existence. March 4, the date of this Day of Museum Solidarity, marks the six-month anniversary of the Zemaljski Muzej’s closure.
This crisis in Bosnia-Herzegovina requires political, economic, and institutional solutions. By participating in the Day of Museum Solidarity, you will make an important and much needed contribution to resolving this crisis.
To participate, please follow the simple directions provided on the CULTURESHUTDOWN webpage
Dr. Azra Aksamija