The 2021 Council of Europe Museum Prize has been awarded to Gulag History Museum (Moscow, Russian Federation). The museum was selected by the Culture Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) meeting today.
The Gulag History Museum documents mass repression and advocates for political freedom. As a human rights museum, it has a dual focus on the crimes of the state and the fate of its citizens, with an emphasis on how the victims maintained their dignity under dehumanising conditions. The museum’s programmes are designed to expose history and activate memory, with the goal of strengthening the resilience of civil society and its resistance to political repression and violation of human rights today and in the future.
According to committee representative for the Museum Prize, Roberto Rampi (Italy, SOC), “the Gulag History Museum tackles with rare honesty some of the very difficult issues about human rights, democracy and the rule of law in the 20th century, while establishing clear links with the challenging democratic and human rights issues we face today in Europe. This museum can serve as a model to other museums in Europe to create a well-documented and moving memory of the past and stimulate reflection on democratic citizenship, particularly for younger generations.”
The Council of Europe Museum Prize has been awarded annually since 1977 to a museum judged to have made a significant contribution to the understanding of European cultural heritage, the promotion of respect for human rights and democracy, bridging cultures, overcoming social and political borders, broadening visitors' knowledge and understanding of contemporary societal issues and exploring ideas of democratic citizenship.
The prize forms part of the European Museum of the Year Awards. Recent winners of the prize include the National Museum of Secret Surveillance “House of Leaves” in Tirana, Albania (2020), the Museum of Communication in Bern, Switzerland (2019) and the War Childhood Museum in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (2018).
The European Museum Forum (EMF), acting under the auspices of the Council of Europe, has organised the prize since its inception. The EMF is the independent, non-profit and voluntary association, registered in the United Kingdom, which awards the European Museum of the Year Prize (also created in 1977). The EMF is: