Eskishir has created a Memory Museum that combines museology with modern technology. The museum is designed with a new concept by which memory elements are recorded in a digital environment, rather than exhibited as artistic or historical objects.
The project focuses on enabling citizens to establish and nourish ties with their culture through digital recordings of oral histories. These recordings are captured through interviews with scholars and other experts about Eskisehir’s history and cultural heritage. The museum features arts, ethnic culture, education, sports, economy, fauna and flora and personal experiences. The museum incorporates and curates participation through competitions, library collections and child-oriented activities, and it intends to continue as a living and continuously self-renewing museum. No less than 40 percent of museum visitors in 2013 were Eskisehir citizens, showing the extent of local interest.
The Eskisehir City Memory Museum (ECMM) was established as a result of a partnership agreement between Eskisehir Metropolitan Municipality and Den Haag Historisch Museum within the framework of the European Community Turkey Intercultural Dialogue Grant Program. The project agreement with the Central Finance and Contracting Unit (CFCU) was signed on 27 October 2011. As part of this agreement, it was decided to establish a “City Memory Museum” located within the complex of Eskisehir City Museums, which will keep city memory alive and be open for improvement.
The creation of the museum results from the following observations:
- There was no bridge established between the historical culture and the modern cultural life in Eskisehir represented by theatre, concert, exhibition, opera and entertainment venues. Eskisehir citizens didn’t have the possibility to keep urban culture memories alive.
- There was a need to establish a dialogue for sharing information and exhibition with ICOM (International Council of Museums) member museums worldwide.
- The City Museum Library had to be enriched with international bibliography and digitalized data.
- The museum also had to be modernized and equipped with visual and audio technologies for children and hearing-impaired persons.
In order to determine the concept of the museum, some researches were done. Ultimately, instead of exhibiting ethnographical or historical objects, it was decided to design a museum with the idea of recording elements in a digital environment. These elements, which are specific to Eskisehir and have played a role in its past and present development, are displayed through oral histories. To record these oral histories, the project team interviewed 100 persons within a limited period of time.
Interviews are listed under 9 different themes: history, cultural heritage, culture and arts, ethnical culture, education, sports, economy, fauna and flora and personal experiences. There are 2 digital books which cover Eskisehir’s history from the year 1900 until present. Visitors are able to view any subject or person on touchscreens placed in the museum.
The ECMM Library comprises more than 1,300 documents related to the history of Eskisehir which are of great interest for academicians, researchers and students. The children playground includes educational tales, plays and coloring books about Eskisehir to entertain kids while their parents are visiting the museum.
In the scope of the project, artworks were selected through art competitions organized in Eskisehir and The Hague and exhibited on different dates in both cities.
ECMM could benefit from the experience and knowledge of Den Haag Historisch Museum, the project's first main partner. The Head Curator of Den Haag Historisch Museum, Mr. Marco van Baalen, supported the establishment of the museum.
The amount of the grant by EC-Turkey Intercultural Dialogue-Museums Grant Program (ICD-MUSE) was 104,732 EU, whereas the Eskisehir Metropolitan Municipality contributed 27,000 EU.
140,460 visitors visited the Museum in 2013; 40% of museum visitors were Eskisehir citizens.
The City Memory Museum has become member of ICOM, an international association on museology. Competitions organized within the scope of the project as well as the exchange of exhibitions between ECMM and Den Haag Historisch Museum have contributed to promote the city of Eskisehir both nationally and internationally. The museum in Eskisehir has become a cultural bridge between the cities of Eskisehir and The Hague.
Reaching persons who are experts in their subjects and communicating with them and their institutions was one of the major difficulties faced by the local project team.
The Museum accepts contributions from everyone who has information, documents or experience related to Eskisehir. Thus, the Museum becomes a living and continuously self-renewing museum.
The establishment of the Museum as well as the competitions and exhibition exchanges organized have contributed to promote the city of Eskisehir both nationally and internationally.
Within the “Eskisehir in You” Art Competition, 13 artworks from Eskisehir were exhibited in The Hague for one month. Thirteen artists and the project team participated in the exhibition opening and found the possibility to learn about Dutch culture. It has been then decided to exhibit the artworks permanently in the exhibition hall of the Museum.
With the “Origin and Destination” exhibition organized in Eskisehir, 13 artworks by Dutch artists, which won a competition organized in Holland, were exhibited in Eskisehir City Museum for 15 days. The artists participated in the exhibition opening and had the possibility in turn to learn about Turkish culture.
- Eskisehir, Turkey: Cherish the Memory of the City Museum, Guangzhou Award for Urban Innovation, http://cms.guangzhouaward.org/template/view/id/2207/type/content/template_id/87.html (30 June 2016)
- Cherish the Memory of the City, Urban Innovation Database, http://www.urban-innovations.org/index.php/Cherish_the_Memory_of_the_City (30 June 2016)
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