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  • Writer's pictureTomislav S. Šola

Being an individual in transitional countries

The masses always cry either in ways we do not hear or ways which are poorly expressed outbursts of unfathomable despair: we are here, and each person is the universe itself. Those who give dignity to people are those who bring freedom. Why on earth would not museums be among them? It is hard to find so well supplied and equipped agents of the society like them for tasks so complex as articulating public mind. They dwell upon tremendous human experience and, far from claiming to be the only saviours, they can join those societal institutions and mechanisms which are after public welfare. They are perpetrators of quality. Memory is about finding the values, collecting them, researching them, caring for them and then reintroducing them to society. They may gather people together, create the environment of memory where the ancestral voices of wisdom could be heard. Caring for the individual and specific, they should nevertheless achieve this feeling of unity which is transgenerational and transcultural. This precious, inexplicable feeling of uniqueness and yet of belonging to all those who have been there before us and equally those who are yet to come, are ambitions peculiar to arts, but museums themselves are essentially the art of memory. Their ability to provide shelter, to provide company, to offer security and comfort of a pleasant learning environment need to become/remain their unique contribution. Among the memory institutions, museums are in any sense, "a well-lighted place" (to paraphrase E. Hemingway) in an increasingly uncomfortable reality. Maybe it is true that the only eternity is a human race itself (Roland Barthes), but even if it isn't, it may be the only one given to us. Her refreshing breath can be felt in our best museums.

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