Here we are, back in action! Instead of a series of apologies and excuses, I will just cut to the chase and write. My draft notebook seemed to have piled up a series of awesome topics and events to write about. So, I’ll just follow the list and start writing again.
I’ll get back to this year conference in a few minutes. First, I want to give you some general information of the Conference itself.
Meet See Do Short History
This Conference is a product of Balkan Museum Network, whose mission is to celebrate, preserve and share the complex common heritage of the Balkans and to create, through cooperation, a strong, collective voice for Balkan heritage and the museum profession. A beautiful idea, isn’t it? Not just beautiful, but necessary.
The Conference is a three-day event that happens once a year, in spring. The Meet See Do project kicked off in 2013, with a launching conference in Sarajevo, followed by Tirana (2014), Novi Sad (2015) and back to Albania in 2016, taking place in Shkodra, from 13th to 15th of April.
Each year over 80 museum professionals from eight countries of the Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) are given the opportunity to present, discuss and exchange different topics and experiences.
Meet See Do 2016
The MeetSeeDo team exceeded all expectations this year. From the amazing program to the impeccable management of logistic details, everything was in the right order and place. Each day would start with a Keynote session – perfect inaugurations of the day. Diana Walters , an international museum consultant for Cultural Heritage Without Borders; Andreja Rihter, a former Minister of Culture in the Government of Slovenia and a very charismatic David Anderson, the Director General of the National Museum of Wales – quite a bunch, isn’t it? These are the experienced thinkers who continue to push the boundaries and set examples.
After the Keynote warm ups, days would proceed with a series of sessions held by facilitators from different countries, organizations and fields. This is the moment when you would see all the participants rushing off with excitement to different venue spots in the historic center of Shkodra. There were so many great sessions to choose from, I will name just a few close to my personal interests: Working with digital creative communities held by a young and vibrant change agent Jasper Visser, The Museum is (not) just a building where curators from the Museum of African Art (Emilia & Ivana) talked about social awareness and the exhibition at the museum that followed the topic, Role-play: Curator vs Artist, an insightful game moderated by Andrej Bereta, the co-founder of Kustosiranje project. I can’t fail to mention the session held by Bogdan Španjević (NextGame) and myself: Gamification of Storytelling which in my humble opinion was loads of fun. 🙂
The late afternoons were reserved for workshops, open microphone, talk show and assembly meetings. These were the open sessions where some serious work was done. Issues emerged, problems were discussed, solutions were found. All this in complete democracy in which every voice is heard and each idea is valued. This is what the future of Balkan museums should be: working together, exchanging opinions, conserving heritage while pushing towards innovative models. Naturally, all said at the conference is far away from implementation. However, the seeds were planted and in some institutions they will blossom into projects while in others it will transform into a trigger for big or small changes. The important thing is that ideas are out there – shared, acknowledged, possible.
It was my second time at MeetSeeDo and I was stroke with the same impression. I felt I was at home, surrounded by motivated museum professionals and culture enthusiasts who aspire to the same goal: to preserve history, old and new, as well as to communicate heritage stories in ways understandable and accessible to everyone.
BIG THANKS to the exceptional people who put the event together and the participants who contributed to the fantastic atmosphere of the conference.
Photographs: Courtesy of Balkan Museum Network