New Exhibition in the House of Flowers
Figures of Memory
The mechanisms of collective memory of Tito and Yugoslavia
The exhibition Figures of Memory, marking the 35th anniversary of the death of Josip Broz Tito and the 70th anniversary of the first baton relay race, held to celebrate his birthday and Youth Day will be opened on Monday May 25, 2015. It was conceived with the aim of showing the mechanisms of collective memory and offering an innovative way of interpreting the museum collections, archive material and documentary video material and linking them to the present moment. The House of Flowers was chosen as the venue for the exhibition, because it is one of the most important places of remembrance associated with the former Yugoslavia and its lifelong president, Josip Broz Tito who was buried there.
The exhibition is curated by Vesna Mikelić, senior curator at the Museum of Yugoslav History, Marija Đorgović and Radovan Cukić, curators at the Museum of Yugoslav History, while Dragana Marković, architect and Mane Radmanović, graphic designer were in charge of exhibition design.
By interpreting the rituals from the era of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which survived to this day and the role that the written word, as well as the objects and facilities, belonging to today’s Museum of Yugoslav History had in them, the exhibition explores the way in which different social groups create and maintain the memory of Yugoslavia and Tito. The title of the exhibition evokes the connection between objects, rituals and people, as well as their interaction, prompting the visitors to find their own place in it.
The materialization of memories of Josip Broz and Yugoslavia began with the signing the condolence book, set up in May 1980, on the occasion of Tito’s funeral and continued through the entries made in memorial books and guest books after the founding of the Memorial Centre. The continuing tradition of leaving messages, which has been kept alive to this day and the changing nature of these messages, highlight their importance for the creation and maintenance of collective memory and the perception of Tito.
This practice of addressing Tito posthumously is an extension of a custom that was widespread throughout his life, through the messages addressed to him personally - in the inscriptions on the gifts that are today kept in the Museum of Yugoslav History. The most explicit examples are batons, the gifts whose most important feature is the message itself.
The exhibition Figures of Memory spans the period before and after Tito’s death, from 1945 to 2014 and includes a segment dedicated to his funeral itself. The display consists of three entities.
The first entity focuses on the batons, sent to Josip Broz to mark May 25 that keep arriving at the museum to this day. The display showcases around 200 batons, coming from a variety of givers – Pioneers, young people, members of different leagues and associations peasants, people living in various towns and villages, workers employed at different companies, veterans and military servicemen. In addition to the batons, the visitors will have a chance to see a video installation combining the archive footage of people carrying batons and mass games, as well as the footage showing May 25 celebrations today, with special emphasis on Kumrovec and Belgrade. Its positioning alongside the archive footage of the events marking this day in the past will make it possible to comprehend May 25 in the light of the changes that have occurred over the last couple of decades.
The entity referring to the period after Tito’s death features a multimedia presentation of the notes and messages left by individuals and social groups. They originate primarily from the memorial books, kept from 1982 to the present. Guest books containing notes left by citizens, groups of workers, associations and young people from the former Yugoslavia, namely, today’s neighbouring countries and all over the world are also an important part of this section of the display.
A special segment of the exhibition consists of around two hundred photos and condolence book entries made by heads of state, ambassadors, presidents and citizens.
The segment Open Storage is a uniquely interesting feature of the exhibition that will showcase regular activities of curators cataloguing and analysing objects. May 25 is a special occasion when the visitors will be offered an opportunity to discover the way in which the batons are viewed in the context of museums and cultural heritage, touch the batons and share their memories with others.
The showing of the films that Tito watched on May 25 will also be part of the special programme of events marking Youth Day, held on Monday, May 25. The films will be shown at the Museum May 25 cinema.