Museums that protect and present fine arts heritage of
older periods are often faced with audiences that do not see connections
between the collections and the modern world. Among the most demanding visitors
are teenagers, most of whom either do not have an opinion on the museums or the
opinion is negative.
The HearMe project's main goal was to break away from
this disconnect and to bring youth and museums closer together. HearMe, in
essence, is a new methodology of working with teenagers in museums. Its main
product is the HearMe workshop, a set of tools that can be adapted to different
museum environments and collections and specific cultural and social dynamics.
It incorporates several approaches, including a derivation of LEGO® Serious Play®
Open Source, open art dialogue, gamification and design thinking.
The project was supported by Creative Europe Culture
sub-programme and connected four partners from Slovenia, Austria, Serbia and
Spain. Three museums, National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana,
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Gallery of Matica srpska, Novi Sad, and
institute for social entrepreneurship ISES, A Coruña, spent 17 months
developing and testing an interactive methodology that connected youth and
As many as 8942 primary and secondary school children,
630 teachers, 150 students, 119 culture experts, 169 schools and 41 cultural
institutions from 8 countries participated in more than 665 workshops.
Together, 23 programme leaders (we called them mentors) spent c. 2000 hours in
youth workshops and up to 80 hours in mentor training (developing the
programmes in Ljubljana, transfer of experience and final conference in
In the National Gallery of Slovenia, one part of the
workshop dealt with the permanent exhibition of Zoran Mušič. Throughout the workshop, the participants’ subjective
thoughts were faced with opinions and experience of others. The participants
had to connect themselves with works of art by an artist they did not know.
They also saw their thought experiment in a historical context. Together with
other participants, they recreated a web of emotions and practical suggestions
that can help us when dealing with trauma.
The exhibition of Zoran Mušič is the most emotionally complex
part of the Gallery’s permanent collection. Teenagers, who mostly do not know
the artist and see the 20th century as distant, were not only able
to draw parallels between themselves and the artist, but also experience the
timeless ideas of Mušič’s work: art as a form of memory, visible consequences
of unseen violence, and, crucially, the coexistence of beauty and pain.