Workshops Parallel Session 2

“Pandemic, earthquake ('s)... what's next? – Did we learn and prepare ourselves for the "next round "?” Milena Bušić, Dajana Batinić and Juraj Sekula, Zagreb City Museum

Crises are often manifested as catalysts for major changes and innovations in society. The worst, but also the best, that society and civilization can offer comes to the surface. The bigger the crisis, the more powerful the change is likely to be. In times of crisis, we are forced to step out of our comfort zone and start thinking and acting outside the learned patterns of behaviour and the framework of everyday life that we are used to, both personally and professionally. If we succeed in this, the crisis, although fundamentally an unpleasant experience, can have some positive consequences instantly, especially in the future.

During 2020, the whole world was faced with a crisis caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus pandemic. The infectious disease transformed social and economic relations, entering and changing every pore of society. Heritage institutions were not spared either – archives, libraries, museums – and the highest impact of the crisis was on public access to institutions. As if the pandemic in itself was not enough, on March 22, 2020, Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, home to a quarter of the total Croatian population, was awakened by a strong earthquake at 6:24 a.m., after which was followed by 57 aftershocks in the next 24 hours. Many buildings were damaged, including the headquarters of heritage institutions, located mainly in the city centre. Less than 10 months later, several strong earthquakes hit the area of Sisak and Petrinja and were strongly felt in Zagreb as well. Therefore, the year 2020 brought us numerous challenges.

What was the response of the Zagreb City Museum (ZCM) to a complex crisis to fulfil its purpose and mission? The primary reaction to the overlapping crisis factors was the protection of employees, users, and museum holdings. Therewith, we started to think about how to communicate with users and through which channels to present the museum’s activities. Very similar to all other institutions, in the first months of the crisis, most of ZCM activities shifted to a virtual environment. Fortunately, the main building of ZCM did not suffer major damage in the earthquake, so we opened our doors to visitors after two months, and the “live” museum activities continued.

After the period of rehabilitation of the consequences, we began to think about the functioning of the museum in times of crisis. How does the museum deal with suddenly changed circumstances? Can crises lead to innovation and thus to positive consequences in museum work? Reflecting on the recent past of our museum, we realised that crises are not exceptional but periodic situations, and that just a few decades ago our museum was also affected by war.

Milena Bušić

Milena Bušić

Zagreb City Museum

Milena Bušić is senior librarian at the Zagreb City Museum. She has a degree in Croatian language and literature and Information sciences, library sciences. As a museum librarian, Milena Bušić is professionally interested in researching and collecting all kind editions related to Zagreb, especially the rare ones. She actively participates in ZCM publishing; she has edited over 10 museum editions so far. She also organises and actively participates in various museum activities, such as exhibitions or educational projects, digitization projects, etc. In 2022, Milena organised the conference and accompanying exhibition ZG 22-02-2020: from magnitude to intensity, with a focus on the earthquake in Zagreb in 2020. She’s currently engaged in the project “Laszowski – the founder”, in which alongside the project holder Zagreb City Museum, eight more heritage institutions are participating.

Dajana Batinić

Zagreb City Museum

As a head of Documentation Department Dajana Batinić is professionally focused in establishment and maintenance of all aspects of museum documentation in Zagreb City Museum. She cooperates with collection curators and all other museum specialists, takes part in museum exhibitions and projects. Her special areas of interest are digital transformation of the museums, documentation standards, digitization of museum objects and documentation, online exhibitions and heritage communication. Dajana has a degree in natural sciences, physics, and information sciences, museum study and heritage management.

Juraj Sekula

Zagreb City Museum

Juraj Sekula is a museum curator, where he puts his own passion for military and contemporary Croatian history into practice. He leads the research and exhibition project “Zagreb Barracks 1991”, in which he investigates the role of the army in the Croatian capital at the beginning of the war. He also runs the project “Zagreb’s Independent Concert Scene”, where he follows alternative bands, clubs and concerts for a year, collecting material for the same topic exhibition. As with history, he has turned his passion for certain aspects of contemporary culture and society into a professional occupation. He studied history and sociology in his hometown Zagreb. In his private time, he often compensate for the work he missed during business hours. He enjoys listening to music, hanging out with friends, going to concerts and playing sport. He has a particular passion for camping on the Adriatic islands.

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