In this lecture I discuss the (re)establishment and evolution of museums in Yugoslavia after 1945. I trace how state ideologues imagined and created policies for museums and assess museum theorist and practitioners’ responses to these ideas. Rather than offering a one-dimensional view of museums under socialism characterized exclusively by ideology, I show how museum professionals took up the ideological task assigned given to them by the state but developed ideas and practices that surpassed official policies and practices. Museum theorists and professionals were invested in transforming museums into public centered spaces and it was the inadequacies of ideological practices that drove them to reimagine how museums should function for ordinary people.
Alexandra Zaremba is a doctoral candidate in History at American University. Her work has been published in Contemporary European History and various edited volumes. Alexandra’s dissertation reassesses memory culture in Yugoslavia and through it traces the changing presence and meaning of World War II and the Holocaust in Yugoslav society. Her work in archives and museums across the Balkans and U.S. has been supported by the Vardy International Research Grant, American Institute for Southeast European Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Central European Historical Society, and Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimony.