MEMORY SAFE HOUSE: Transformative potential of digitalizing The Sarajevo Siege exhibition

Selma Harrington B Arch M Sc Arch M Phil ES

The Siege of Sarajevo exhibition in the History Museum of Bosnia-Herzegovina is a collection of artefacts donated by citizens, illustrating every-day survival during the siege and war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1990s. In parallel with this real exhibition, a number of virtual exhibitions are created on-line by Sarajevo students and scholars in recent years. These memories of personal experiences, real and virtual records, represent what might be termed as a heritage of destruction. The imbedded tension of this term reflects the reality in which Sarajevo’s citizens perceive their past and present. The use of digital methods in visualising memories, events, people and artefacts, show the desire to claim the future ‘on equal terms’ by utilising available technology, but also underlines the real experience of survival under threat and continued struggle to maintain and adequately preserve own material culture against the reality of sparse resources.

The growing development of digital museum collections challenges the traditional role of museums as specialised collections of artefacts. This work explores the possibility to visualise past memories by digital means as a way to enhance the conventional, albeit unusual exhibition, with view to advance the museum’s educational role as keeper of cultural heritage and memory. It presents the progress of an educational exercise designed as a semester-long MA Interior architecture collaborative project. Through design work, the physical aspects of the Museum space are examined, developing new spatial solutions and two digital narratives of the Sarajevo Siege.

In cooperation with Sarajevo students of Architecture, the Irish students’ project proposes that the new interactive digital exhibition with the existing objects preserved from the recent conflict, could provide a controlled and safe environment for re-enacting the difficult and sometimes contested memory and could open up the space for dealing and reconciling with the traumatic past.

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