Participate: Day of Museum Solidarity – March 4

February 1, 2013

To representatives of museums and galleries worldwide:

I ask you to participate in an important international cultural awareness campaign. This campaign is a reaction to the acute crisis affecting major cultural institutions in Bosnia-Herzegovina. On October 4, 2012, after 124 years of existence, the country’s National Museum (Zemaljski Muzej) closed down due to the government’s failure to secure legal status and adequate funding. Your solidarity is needed!

Foto_RSE_ Midhat Poturovic_Oct2012_s

Planks nailed to the main entrance of the National Museum in Sarajevo symbolically marked the closure of one of the most important cultural and historic institutions of BH, Oct. 4, 2012. Foto: RSE / Midhat Poturović

Six other state-level institutions, including the National Art Gallery (Umjetnička Galerija BH) and the National and University Library (Nacionalna i Univerzitetska Biblioteka BH) are also about to become permanently inaccessible. The safety of precious artifacts and heritage are at stake.

Why am I doing this? I am one of the founding members of the platform CULTURESHUTDOWN, an international initiative connecting scholars, artists and cultural producers responding to this crisis. Cultural institutions in Bosnia-Herzegovina are keepers of the unique historical and cultural treasures that provide evidence of coexistence in the region. Preserving them is crucial for securing a sustainable peace.  Artifacts kept in these institutions are an important component of the world’s cultural heritage. Preserving them is a matter of global relevance.

I call on you and other museums across the globe to demonstrate your solidarity with threatened Bosnian cultural institutions by symbolically “erasing” one precious artwork or artifact, rendering it inaccessible for the Day of Museum Solidarity. How? On March 1, I ask you to place the yellow barricade tape in front of the chosen object (ranging from a dinosaurs skeleton to a painting, depending on your collection and your choice). I will provide this custom-designed non-adhesive tape featuring the CULTURESHUTDOWN logo. Take a picture of the “crossed out” object and send it to me. The “crossed out” artifact should be publicly visible in your institution from March 1 – 3.  The collected pictures of Museum Solidarity across the world will be posted on the CULTURESHUTDOWN website on Monday March 4, the scheduled Day of Museum Solidarity. As many museums are closed on Mondays, our global campaign will take the form of a virtual collective exhibition on CULTURESHUTDOWN website. We would appreciate it if you were to post images of this campaign or host this virtual group exhibition on your institutions’ website, should that be possible.

February 1, the date of this public call, marks the 125th Anniversary of Zemaljski Muzej’s existence. March 4, the date of this Day of Museum Solidarity, marks the beginning of the sixth month since the Zemaljski Muzej has been closed to public. We plan to call attention to this sixth month with a virtual exhibition showing documentation of institutions’ solidarity acts across the globe.

This crisis in Bosnia-Herzegovina requires political, economic, and institutional solutions. By participating in the Day of Museum Solidarity, you will make an important and much needed contribution to resolving this crisis.


To participate, please follow these simple directions:


 STEP 1: Mona Lisa Shurdown_poster_ss

February 1-22: Provide your mailing address to receive the tape >>> Fill out the form on this page. Spread the word though your network and media.


On March 1: Use the CULTURESHUTDOWN barricade tape that you receive to “cross out” your chosen artifact. Edit and print the campaign poster. Display the poster next to the “crossed out” artifact to inform visitors. The “crossed out” artifact should be publicly visible in your institution during the period of March 1 – 3. 


On March 1: Take a picture of the “crossed out” artifact and send it to me >>> Upload the image though this online form. Pictures of “barricaded” artifacts from museums across the world will be displayed on the CULTURESHUTDOWN website on March 4.


In solidarity,

Dr. Azra Aksamija for CULTURESHUTDOWN

Assistant Professor, Program in Art, Culture and Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

E-Mail: [email protected]



Credits for the “Day of Museum Solidarity” campaign:
Initiated, conceived and managed by: Azra Akšamija
Organization and production by: Members of the platform CULTURESHUTDOWN: Azra Akšamija, Selma Gičević, Maximilian Hartmuth, Asja Mandić, Jasmin Mujanović, Dietmar Offenhuber, Susan Pearce, Andras Riedlmayer, James Thomas Snyder, Jeff Spurr, Sonja Srdanović, and Mladen Vuković.
Financed by: Azra Akšamija (private), with the Director’s Grant from the Council for the Arts at MIT
Participants: 225 cultural institutions from 40 countries across the globe.
Support by: CIMAM, ICOM, ICOM Hrvatska, Društvo Povijesničara Umjetnosti Hrvatske, e-flux.
CULTURESHUTDOWN logo designed by: Jegan Vincent de Paul.
We thank all individuals and institutions supporting this campaign, especially to Ljerka Dublić, Toshiro Ihara, Eva Meran, Floor van de Velde, and Zdenka Badovinac. Many thanks to all of you who mobilized your personal contacts in this call and helped spread the word.
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