Martor No. 23 / Year 2018

Revolutionary Curating, Curating the Revolution: Socialist Museology in Yugoslav Croatia

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Author: Joel Palhegyi

About the author:
Joel Palhegyi
PhD Candidate, Department of History, University of California San Diego
jpalhegyi at ucsd dot edu

Pages: 17-34

Keywords: Croatia; Yugoslavia; communism; socialism; museums; museology.

The communist period for Yugoslav Croatia brought about dramatic changes in museum practice and theory between the early 1950s and late 1970s. Driven by questions concerning how to properly develop socialist museums, Croatian museum professionals sought to transform the bourgeois history museum into a truly popular institution that would make Croatia’s cultural legacy accessible to the masses and allow visitors to understand their place in the socialist Yugoslav imaginary. To this end, museum professionals developed two new museum models, the Revolutionary Museum and the Native Place Museum. Revolutionary Museums were charged with memorializing the founding myths of socialist Yugoslavia, chief among them the anti-fascist, communist revolution during World War Two, and the postwar building of socialism. Native Place Museums similarly reinforced the Yugoslav state by exhibiting local history and culture within the larger trajectory of socialist Yugoslavism. Furthermore, these two models were front and center for new museological experimentation intended to create a distinctly socialist museum space that would engage the everyday working-class visitor. Analyzing contemporary museological journals and museum planning documents, I argue that these museum models were successful in implementing much of the new museological theory, but in doing so moved away from one of the fundamental principles of museum practice: the exhibition and explanation of authentic material culture to the museum visitor.

How to cite this article: Palhegyi, Joel. 2018. “Revolutionary Curating, Curating the Revolution: Socialist Museology in Yugoslav Croatia.” Martor 23: 17-34. [DOI: 10.57225/martor.2018.23.02]