In October 2013, the Slovene National Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM Slovenia) presented for the first time its awards to Slovene museums, aimed at encouraging, popularising and promoting the international networking of the ideas and activities of Slovene museums. At the same time, the ICOM Slovenia awards are intended to promote the annual International Museum Day theme (chosen by the ICOM on a global level) at Slovene museums.
The category of internationally recognised projects comprised the following award candidates: the National Gallery of Slovenia’s exhibition entitled Spanish Statuary Art between the 14th and 18th Centuries; the National Museum of Slovenia’s exhibition Imagining the Balkans; and the Slovene Ethnographic Museum’s exhibition ORINOCO, Indians of the Amazon Rainforest (with accompanying events at the museum from April 2011 to September 2012).
The 2013 ICOM Slovenia award for internationally recognised projects was presented to the Slovene Ethnographic Museum and to Ms Nina Zdravič Polič (the head of the project) for the ORINOCO exhibition. The ORINOCO project was recognised by the ICOM Slovenia Awards Commission as the most powerful and the most global in its message, a quality in which it fully adhered to the ICOM recommendations. It addressed the issue of the preservation of universal heritage and of the collective responsibility for this, promoted intercultural dialogue, and touched upon the burning issues of human survival, sustainable development and many others. The award for the promotion of the annual ICOM theme was presented to the Maribor National Liberation Museum for its project We’ve Taken over the Museum.
The ICOM Slovenia Awards Commission, chaired by Ms Jerneja Batič, justified its decision to present the award for internationally recognised projects with the following words: “We are dealing with three outstanding exhibitions that helped connect Slovenia with Europe and with the rest of the world, enabling the museums to forge new international links and promote the principles of museum curation: the National Gallery’s Spanish Statuary Art between the 14th and 18th Centuries, the National Museum of Slovenia’s Imagining the Balkans, and the Orinoco exhibition at the Slovene Ethnographic Museum. Yet there are differences among them. While the exhibition on Spanish statuary art spurred a dialogue mainly within the expert public, the Imagining the Balkans exhibition created an opportunity for reflection and dialogue in the most turbulent part of Europe by casting light on the historical changes in South-East Europe during the 19th century. It is an exhibition that employs cultural diversity and an open approach to history in order to connect and explore new ways of interpreting the testimony of individual nations. We are aware of the importance and the international dimension of the exhibition due to its inclusion in UNESCO’s global initiative. For this reason, and despite the evident museological deficiencies of the exhibition, we wish to express our deep appreciation to its creators.”
“The third exhibition, Orinoco, conveys the most powerful and the most global message with regard to the recognition of ICOM principles. It addresses the issues of preserving universal heritage and of our collective responsibility for this. Through this exhibition, the Slovene Ethnographic Museum has helped raise awareness of the importance of sustainable development while also promoting intercultural dialogue, interdisciplinarity, and an appreciation of the need to learn about and respect different values and ways of life. In its quest to raise awareness and encourage dialogue about the contemporary issues of human survival, the exhibition takes us to the heart of the Earth, the Amazon rainforest, an area which, through its inhabitants’ unique spiritual world and vast knowledge of the environment, encourages reflection on the survival of humankind. The exhibition, which was designed with a limited budget and with the awareness of Slovene society’s need to address contemporary topics, is a result of years of coordination and efforts by Ms Nina Zdravič Polič on the international scene…”
As one visitor wrote: “All the exhibitions are nice, but Orinoco is unlike anything I have ever seen in a museum.”