The main museum of Brasov has opened an exhibition a few months ago which was all about how Transylvania in general and the town of Brasov in particular, were involved in the First World War. Apparently the town had had no involvement until 1916, which is why 2016 was a proper year to make the exhibition.
While I did not get to see the exhibition when it launched, as I was not particularly interested in any war-related matters, I did get to see, more or less by accident.
The exhibition covers a few rooms with objects from the time, maps, videos and written information. Moreover, it also features a bunch of interactive things; I’m not sure whether to call them installations or what, which are all about the war. At a first glance, this appears to be quite a good idea. Having top-technology real-life apps offering information or giving you a more 3D experience of what happened seems to be a good idea. Some would say that especially for children, having such things is useful, as they will learn by having fun.
And that is exactly where the problem lies. From my point of view, the exhibition was a complete disaster. Not only was it bad, but it was lacking morality and had not even one thread of decency.
One doesn’t even need to see the exhibition or to understand why. It is hard to even address these issues, but I think they need to be said and explained.
An exhibition, regardless of what it might be, needs to follow the topic it has set out to follow. Making a light, entertaining, childish exhibition about the war, any war, is not only a sign of stupidity, but of a great lack of judgment too. There is nothing enjoyable about the war – at least if you are a humane human being and not a sociopath, which many people are – and this is why one should not treat a subject such as WWI in a light, entertaining, upbeat manner. It does not matter at all whether your audience is adults or children or what. If it is children, it is your responsibility as an exhibition creator to teach children about the horror that war is. Making childish, entertainment-based apps and selling them as a high-tech experience is demeaning. It is demeaning to the human mind and to everyone who had to go through war or to deal with the consequences of those times and is embarrassing for anyone who enters it.
When you walk out of such an exhibition, regardless of whether you are four or forty, you should be at least touched; you should not be entertained as if you just walked out of a 7D cinema at the mall. You should want to get away from it, not go for another ride.
Especially in a tense time such as the one we are having today, showcasing war in a lighthearted, dynamic, family-activity, circus kind of way is the worse way to go. What will people take from it? Or, what do you want them to take from it?