Museums and Transitional Justice: Assessing the Impact of a Memorial Museum on Young People in Post-Communist Romania

Duncan Light, Remus Creţan, Andreea-Mihaela Dunca
2021 Societies  
Memorial museums are frequently established within transitional justice projects intended to reckon with recent political violence. They play an important role in enabling young people to understand and remember a period of human rights abuses of which they have no direct experience. This paper examines the impact of a memorial museum in Romania which interprets the human rights abuses of the communist period (1947–1989). It uses focus groups with 61 young adults and compares the responses of
more » ... sitors and non-visitors to assess the impact of the museum on views about the communist past, as well as the role of the museum within post-communist transitional justice. The museum had a limited impact on changing overall perceptions of the communist era but visiting did stimulate reflection on the differences between past and present, and the importance of long-term remembrance; however, these young people were largely skeptical about the museum's role within broader processes of transitional justice. The paper concludes that it is important to recognize the limits of what memorial museums can achieve, since young people form a range of intergenerational memories about the recent past which a museum is not always able to change.
doi:10.3390/soc11020043 fatcat:w3a773gvyngoxkx74zttlwgm64