Exhibiting 20th century history

History museums and history exhibitions are central to any culture of history.

History museums and exhibitions are spaces in which meaning is produced collectively, and in this way, they are central to any culture of history. Our congealed imaginations of the past are displayed or staged in history exhibitions. Museums in East Central and Southeastern Europe have had to adapt to new conditions over the past twenty-five years. They have had to generate adequate responses to the challenges presented by completely different approaches to exhibiting history. The often polarized debates over the nature and experience of communist dictatorship have brought with them new expectations by society of what a history museum ought to be and do.

At the same time, these museums are expected to use the visual conventions and interactive possibilities provided by new media to expand the ways they communicate with visitors. Museums in Western Europe were confronted with similar changes in the 1970s, when new forms of mediation and representation fundamentally transformed the field. On this account, it makes sense to expand our perspective on Eastern and Southeastern Europe to include Central and Western Europe as well.