The re-establishment of a curatorship for Slovene emigrants, Slovenes in neighbouring countries and members of national minorities and other ethnicities in Slovenia
Between November 2020 and September 2021, a project for re-establishing a curatorship for Slovene emigrants, Slovenes in neighbouring countries, members of national minorities and other ethnicities in Slovenia (hereafter the Project) took place at the Slovene Ethnographic Museum (hereafter the SEM). Such a curatorship existed previously from 1999 to 2011 under the leadership of Dr Daša Koprivec.
The curatorship deals with topical and complex themes of modern global migrations and the meaning of place with regard to surpassing intolerance, prejudice and exclusion, and which contributes to learning about ethnic and cultural diversity in Slovenia. Active work in this area is among the SEM’s priorities.
The Project lists as its priorities the recording and preserving of heritage in the whole Slovene ethnic area and among Slovene emigrants around the world, as well as recording and preserving the heritage of national and immigrant communities, as well as other ethnicities in Slovenia. It has been suggested that there should be a systematic supplementation of the museum collections, including in the field of intangible heritage, and that a dynamic exhibition programme should be established by supplementing the museum’s permanent exhibitions. When researching and choosing exhibition themes, it is important to forge links with research institutions involved in this area (Slovenian Migration Institute at the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, the National and University Library, the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia) and various associations, while networking, connecting and coordinating is also vital within the museum itself. Reactions to topical social events present a great challenge with regard to the responsibilities of the curatorship.
The project has been aligned with the SEM’s strategic documents and follows the set goals: regular performance of the main service, continued supplementation and management of the existing collection according to the criteria in the adopted SEM collection strategy, and the collecting strategies for the collection, comprehensive accessibility (the goal is 100% accessibility), increasing the impact of the collection’s identity in Slovenia and internationally, connecting with other SEM curatorships and establishing a network of external collaborators at home and abroad, establishing a network of institutions in Slovenia, and inclusion in programmes of education and training.
Cataloguing of the collection and a comprehensive overview of the work carried out have been accomplished and a proposal for the curatorship’s strategy drawn up. Contacts have been established with individual informants and various research and educational institutions (National University Library, Archives of the Republic of Slovenia, the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts – Slovenian Migration Institute, Faculty of Arts, University of Primorska – Faculty of Humanities). A great deal of work was implemented on the project La Doctora – The Life and Work of a Slovene Researcher in Paraguay, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dr Branislava Sušnik, which included coordination and connections with the Dr Andrés Barbero Ethnographic Museum in Asunción (MEAB), the founder of the La Piedad foundation, project management, occasional exhibitions (the online exhibition opening took place on 20 April 2021), coordination of the pre-premiere of the documentary film Memories of Branka Sušnik (directed by Diego Segovia, CineVEcinO, Paraguay, 20 April 2021), organising the online colloquy Dr Branka Sušnik – Reflections (26 November 2020), taking part in the online seminar Paraguay As Learned About and Lived by Branislava Sušnik (organisers: Paraguay Embassy in Vienna, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia and SEM, 23 November 2020), participation in the international research symposium Branka Sušnik and Contemporaries – Ambassadors of Slovene Science in South America (a presentation of the results of a research project with the same title, led on the occasion of the international marking of the 100th anniversary of Dr Branislava Sušnik’s birth by the Institute of Intercultural Studies at the University of Primorska in cooperation with the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ljubljana and the Slovenian Migration Institute of the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts at Cankarjev dom in Ljubljana on 27 May 2021), co-organisation and implementation of a round table on the occasion of the publication of the journal Two Homelands, with the title Stories of Women Migrants Who Were Not Stopped by Walls (a collaboration with the Slovenian Migration Institute, 15 June 2021), and the establishment, management and implementation of the project of recording and digitalising the collection in Asunción by founding the Branislava Sušnik Fund – Collection of Digital Data at the SEM.
At the same time, in cooperation with the National and University Library, the project Impressions 30 took place, involving the reminiscences of Slovenes around the world of the recognition of independent Slovenia. This exhibition included a short questionnaire about experiencing the independence process and reactions to Slovenia’s declaration of independence, which was sent by email to Slovene emigrants around the world, to Slovenes in neighbouring countries and those who had returned to Slovenia. Slovenes from Slovene ethnic areas across the border, from the countries of the former Yugoslavia, from Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australia contributed their impressions, as did those who had returned to Slovenia. The questionnaire was completed by 67 testament givers, of which 10 were from Australia, 10 the USA, 9 Argentina, 9 Italy, 5 the United Kingdom, 4 Croatia, 4 Sweden, 4 France, 3 Canada, 3 Austria, 2 Switzerland, 2 Netherlands and one each from Germany and Mexico. The interviews have been written down and edited, and belong to the SEM Curatorship Memories fund and to the National and University Library’s Slovenian Diaspora Publications Collection.
Translations of the report, of the publication on the website, of the introductory text for the exhibition La Doctora and interpretation of events have been completed. With regard to digitalisation, the collection of photographs, museum objects and documents from EMAB in Paraguay have all been digitalised. Photographs have been taken of the museum objects. The work, commissioned by the SEM, was carried out in Paraguay. In addition, the Project included the virtualisation of the collection and exhibition The Sea – Our Life: Memories of a Nabrežina Fishing Family, relating to a Slovene family from Nabrežina near Trieste. At the invitation of the Association of Slovene Cultural Societies in Italy, the exhibition appeared in Trieste in 2020, and after its closure it can be viewed as a virtual walk.
In addition, a flier presenting the collection has been created which, upon the reestablishment of the curatorship, can be sent to various collaborators around the world, quickly establishing an international network.