Southern Romania: Museum of Communism for Children to open in Pitești
The Museum of Communism for Children is set to open on August 23 in Pitești, on the premises of the Pitești Prison Memorial, which covers the history of the infamous Pitești Prison.
Pitesti Prison is one of the sites where political detainees were held during the communist regime.
The opening on August 23 marks the European Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Totalitarian Regimes.
The museum, dedicated to children and teenagers, aims to inform them about the communist regime in an interactive, creative way. The young visitors can discover the realities of the regime themselves, participating, at the same time, in the creation of the museum.
They will learn about the communist dictatorship through themes covering an introduction to communism and propaganda, nationalization, collectivization, detention/resistance, daily life and in a debate room.
The museum also holds educational workshops that aim to encourage children's involvement in the process of creating the exhibition but also to help children better understand the themes in the museum. "The workshops help children manage the emotions they feel during their visit, and our educators will assist the young ones in understanding difficult or violent topics," the museum representatives explain.
They also have access to the digital textbook History of Communism (History of Communism for Children and Teenagers), which includes all the topics in the museum and serves as support material in understanding the museum through additional information, biographies, and images. It can be used by teachers and pupils during school courses. The manual will be available in digital format for remote access so that children, parents and teachers can easily use it.
At the museum, the book My diary of the history of communism in Romania will also be available. It is a workbook with information, games and drawings that the young ones can fill out and take home. It is meant to "motivate children to express themselves creatively through drawings and texts that they can add to certain pages, but also to relate critically to information through interviews, practical exercises or research undertaken by them and written down in the workbook. The diary will be available in printed form in the museum and will be used as support material in the workshops."
Furthermore, the available guided tours encourage the dialogue between group members while allowing children to give feedback in real-time and directly.
Work on the project started in early 2022, after it received funding from the Administration of the National Cultural Fund for two of the six rooms of the museum, the digital textbook for students and teachers, and the workbook for students.
The team of the project includes historian Lucian Vasile - responsible for the historical research, Ioana Hașu (historian) and Iulia Iordan (museum educator) – who created and conducted pilot workshops at schools in Recea and Bucharest, Maria Axinte (museographer) and Cătălina Bocanu (guide) – who continued to hold workshops at Pitești Prison Memorial and in several schools in Argeș county during the months of May and June. The idea of the workshops was to learn as much as possible about what children know about communism but also to involve them in the creation of the museum.
In 2023 work will continue on the opening of the other rooms in the museum.
The museum is a project created by Pitesti Prison Memorial. Children under the age of 12 cannot visit the Memorial because of the extremely violent subject, the project's representatives explained.
Entry is free, and children can visit accompanied by their families.
(Illustration courtesy of Museum of Communism for Children)