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Balkan Museums without Barriers – An overview of the conference

Regional conference “Balkan Museums without Barriers” was full of fantastic presentations and workshops! On 28 October 2014 the conference was opened by Aida Vezic and Dr. Diana Walters from the Cultural Heritage without Borders, and Ms. Giorsetti Jeannette and Ms. Anna Maria Kosmoglou from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. Ms. Michele Taylor introduced conference values and objectives such as active sharing and learning, among others.


The first keynote speech was given by Mr. Marcus Weisen who shared his vast experience under the title “The Inclusive Museum: creative challenge creative opportunity”. In his presentation Mr. Weisen presented few inspiring examples from the Balkans; talked about the Transformative Experiences in Accessible Heritage, International Policies and the Power of Culture, How Accessible are Museums and how to reach Inclusion by Design. Copy of this presentation is available here.

After the lecture, the participants of the conference have individually set their personal objectives using the document prepared in the delegates’ pack. The topics in the group discussions converged around learning, networking, promoting ideas and institutions and getting inspired by others and their work. In the “Projects Showcase” session, fifteen museum project were presented with the posters and explanations provided by the project coordinators or the museum representative. This was done in a friendly and lively atmosphere in which giving and receiving feedback has created synergies between passed projects and new ideas. Here is the list of all twenty seven museums projects that were implemented by museums with the funding of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

As the  “Workshop session 1” members of the Balkan Museums Access Group: Samir Avdić, Etleva Demollari, Danica Ivančević, Ivan Kručičan, Tatjana Mijatović and Goran Patčev held three workshops in which they talked about their personal and institutional achievements and project implementation as the learning processes.  Samir and Ivan presented the “Museums in a Suitcase” and the creation of tactile replicas of the medieval buildings. The participants of this workshop were interested to know how long it took to choose and produce the objects available in the suitcase, what was the most difficult thing during the process of making the museum in the suitcase and how was the inclusion of children organized during the workshops. At Tanja’s and Goran’s session on the production of the tactile images, questions that have asked we concerning equipment and materials used for the production of tactile images, as well as the process of building partnerships with the Association of blind, both in Ohrid and in Sarajevo. The session on the importance and dissemination of the social model of inclusion that was managed by Etleva and Danica generated a lot of sharing of personal experiences and ideas for the future actions.

In the afternoon of this very intensive first conference day, Michele Taylor presented “Planning for disability access and inclusion: starting with a basic access survey” explaining how museums can make basic assessment of their accessibility. More information can be found in the presentation.

On the second day of the conference (29 October 2014) Mr. Dejan Atanackovic presented his author project “Belgrade: Another Gaze” as an initiative for social inclusion, exchange of knowledge and new narrative paths. After the alternative mapping of the city of Belgrade, workshops for the alternative guides took place and after the training of the alternative guides, they are able to offer public tours of Belgrade. More information about this project can be found in Dejan’s presentation.

As part of the “Workshop session 2” conference delegates again had the opportunity to hear about exciting achievements of the Balkan Museums Access Group members. Workshop on “Accessible Information” was run by Mr. Marcus Weisen who presented many good examples of accessible design and exampled of museums’ Accessibility Guides.

The workshops were followed by the lecture on the “Representation of disability in museums” that was given by Dr. Diana Walters who explained that we encounter representation in museums and exhibitions through images, narratives, objects, attitudes, architecture and through exhibitions. At the end she concluded that museums are about representation, that representation is an issue of control, and even though museums are constrained they can also be sensitive to different groups.

Carlotta Capurro from the Visual Dimension bvba, Belgium presented “Tangible interfaces in digital museum applications” with the demonstration of the 3D model of Augustus Prima Porta.

The pinnacle of the conference was The Talk Show with Jasmin Dzemidjic, Ira Adilagic and Amna Alispahic who talked about their best and worst experience in the museum as a disabled person. The messages of the talk show were very strong and clear – museums have to be dangerous and have to ask disabled people what their needs are. The conference ended with the round table discussions and action planning with amazing individual and institutional commitments. The award ceremony for three best museums projects and little exhibition of paintings and graphics produced by the art students contributed to amazingly positive atmosphere in which the conference was held.

See the atmosphere in pictures on our Facebook page!


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