Bosnian museum of wartime childhood helps heal trauma

Fri Jul 8, 2016 6:41am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Dado Ruvic

ZENICA, Bosnia (Reuters) - Bosnians whose childhood was traumatized by the 1990s war have donated thousands of cherished personal items from that era for a touring exhibition aimed in part at warning others about the folly of conflict.

The original plan was to open a permanent War Childhood Museum in the capital Sarajevo in August. But when the site chosen by the museum's founders was ruled out by municipal authorities in favor of a fitness club, the project embarked on a cross-country tour.

The traveling museum features more than 2,800 exhibits, including toys, letters, photographs, diaries and humanitarian food packaging, with accompanying texts in both Bosnian and English. For Wider Image story, click on

"It all started when I put online a simple question: What does childhood in war mean for you?" Jasminko Halilovic, a 27-year-old economist spearheading the project, told Reuters.

"We have the idea to expand the museum's scope and start collecting memories from other conflict zones so as to create a universal exhibition that would serve as a warning against new wars," Halilovic said.

In 2013 he published War Childhood, a collection of wartime memories of his generation. The book was translated into several languages and helped Halilovic connect with other compatriots in Bosnia and abroad who went through the death and destruction of the 1992-95 war involving Serbs, Croats and Bosniak Muslims.

"Many people preserve wartime items, they still connect memories from the war with these objects and have an urge to share their experience and that's where the idea for the museum came from," Halilovic said.

The War Childhood Museum aims to investigate, exhibit and educate and Halilovic said donating personal possessions that people had associated with wartime had a "cathartic effect".   Continued...

An Adidas cap is seen at the Bosnian War Childhood museum exhibition in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, June 21, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic