Museums of Communism

The Department of History, CEU; Pasts, Center for Historical Studies, CEU; and the Open Society Archives, Budapest (OSA) organized an international workshop in the frame of the EUNAMUS: European National Museums: Identity Politics, the Uses of the Past and the European Citizen 7th Framework Program of the European Union ( on 13-14 May at CEU. The event organizers, Constantin Iordachi, Head of Department/Associate Professor, Department of History, CEU, and Peter Apor, Research Fellow, Pasts Inc., Center for Historical Studies, CEU, plan to pull together the threads of discussion into an edited book, which will be the first comparative historical study of assembling and representing communism in European museums.

The workshop explored the ways in which the history of state socialism is assembled and represented in museums and memorial sites. During two days of presentations and discussions the workshop transpired that there are distinctive differences between the museumification of communism in Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Germany and Lithuania. From among the numerous issues the event covered participants arrived to the conclusion that whereas Germany has well developed exhibitions of the state socialist period, Serbia lacks any museum representation of the second half of the twentieth century. Furthermore, while in Bulgaria several museums of communism were organized through private initiatives, in Hungary a substantial state investment was made in the construction of the House of Terror. All countries, however, seemed to share one common feature: exhibitions of communism stirred controversies and raised difficult questions, ranging from the choice of material objects to political narratives. Displaying the communist past in the post-communist museums appears to be impossible without including other highly traumatic historical events, such as the Holocaust or Yugoslavian wars.

Speakers included Istvan Rev, Director, Open Society Archives, Budapest (OSA);   Irmgard Zundorf, Zentrum fur Zeithistorische Forschung, Potsdam; Simina Badica, The Museum of the Romanian Peasant; Olga Manojlovic-Pintar, Research Associate, Institute for Recent History of Serbia; Aleksandar Ignjatovic, Assistant Professor, University of Belgrade; Egle Rindzeviciute, Department for Studies of Social Change and Culture, Linkoping University; Vjeran Pavlakovic, Assistant Professor, University of Rijeka; Rossitza Guentcheva, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, New Bulgarian University, Sofia; and Viviana Iacob, Independent Curator and Associate Researcher, Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile.

The detailed program of the workshop can be found at