Public Participation in the Museum. World War II in 100 Photos

The 10th International Conference of Museums for Peace

Title: Public Participation in the Museum. World War II in 100 Photos

Author: Erik Somers, Culture Historian / Curator, NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, The Netherlands

Abstract: Museums are increasingly aware of their social responsibility. They see themselves more and more as a democratic institution with opinions on past and present, where human stories dominate and which contributes to a critical conscious society. In this way museum can contribute to a more peaceful society. Public participation plays a crucial role in this process. How can the public in the museum be actively involved in important social developments and social historical events? The project “World War II in 100 photos” in The Netherlands is an attempt at this

In many countries, the history of World War II is still regarded as a moral compass for today’s society. This is also the case in the Netherlands. This year, a project was realized in which the public was encouraged to actively contribute to the realization of a photo exhibition: "World War II in 100 photos". Based on the belief that photos somehow appeal to everyone and that images are able to connect the contemporary with the past.

The starting point of the project is: not the historian, the photo connoisseur or the museum curator, but the audience puts together the exhibition "Word War II in 100 photos". People started in their own environment looking for pictures from the Second World War. Awareness grew that the story behind the photo was important.

The project contributed to increasing knowledge of the history of World War II and raising awareness of the impact of these events then and now. In a society that is increasingly focused on visualization - think of social media - critical handling of images is of great importance. This project also contributed to this insight.