Just over four months ago, in October 2012, the Sarajevo Zemaljski Museum, along with half a dozen other Bosnian cultural institutions (the Museum of Modern Art, the National Library, the Cinematheque ...) closed its doors. The closure came after years of hardship (cuts in heating, collapse of part of the roof, a general lack of resources for the preservation of collections, unpaid salaries ...) a lack of sufficient funding, and an absence of political consensus amongst national institutions about responsibility for the museum. What makes this closure all the more heartbreaking is that, during the war, the museum was seen as a symbol of Sarajevo’s courage and determined resistance: despite the wartime destruction and the difficulties of the siege of Sarajevo, the museum never closed, and most of its precious collections (e.g., the priceless Haggadah) were preserved (for example, the archaeologist Lidija Fekeza speaking about her experiences at the Zemaljski Museum during the siege).
In an attempt to alert international opinion to this unacceptable situation, a campaign, http://www.cultureshutdown.net/, has been launched by a group of intellectuals, artists, librarians and scientists from several countries, with many museums and international scientific institutions adding their voices to the initiative. The campaign will be marked by a number of symbolic acts. From March 4, for example, participating museums will be asked to "block off" one of their exhibits to imitate the doors of the unfortunate Zemaljski Museum:
- Culture shut down
No French institution, to my knowledge, has yet joined the initiative, but I hope they won’t lose any time in doing so!