The Museum of Abandonment is digitizing 15,000 documents

Last fall the Museum of Abandonment began a major project to reunite some personal and institutional archives, disparate hitherto, into a digital archive, all relating to the institutionalization and deinstitutionalization of children in communist and post-communist Romania.

The digital artifacts in the archives at this time, together with archives donated by foundations and NGOs, will unite in an impressive and necessary endeavor in Romania – the Abandonment Map. We map on a digital map the phenomenon of abandonment in Romania, recovering, documenting and realizing the unseen history of institutional abandonment in the past 50 years. Gradually, tens of thousands of artifacts will be cataloged by the Museum’s archive team, along with volunteers and interns from several Bucharest University faculties and partner associations.

At the launch of the first public collection on the subject, dozens of testimonies were sent to the Museum’s participatory archive, as well as requests for donations from NGOs that carried out the first humanitarian interventions in post-communist Romania. The Romanian Angel Appeal Foundation is one of the organizations that immediately intervened in the post-1989 period, launching a major international campaign to support the children at risk in our country. The activity of the organization has been documented for more than 30 years by a huge number of documents and photos, which will now be included in the public archive created by the Museum of Abandonment, more than 15,000 items.

In the past year, the Museum of Abandonment has built a solid technical infrastructure and specific archiving methods, in order to be able to take over, digitize and link essential documents donated by partner organizations to our archives. The project and the current stage of work were initiated with the support of AFCN – Administration of the National Cultural Fund.

“The Museum team has identified, in the process of documentation, a very valuable resource for the study of the phenomenon of abandonment in Romania: the archives of associations and institutions that, in the period 1990-2000, actively participated in changing the living conditions of children placed in institutions in the system of public child protection. The abandonment map covers an archival gap At the regional and national levels, because at present there are no public databases that focus – even minimally – on the daily reality of these children.Map of abandonment includes preventive conservation interventions, thousands of hours of surveying, cataloging, and archival editing: an emergency approach to extremely rich historical material. – Iris Charban, cartographer, anthropologist, and archive curator of the Exodus Museum

Currently, with the support of the Romanian Angel Appeal, the Abandonment Museum team is in the process of digitizing 15,000 items, charting the situation in orphanages and hospital dormitories in many counties in the country in the early 1990s. Students from the Faculty of Arts, Department of Ethnology, University of Bucharest, already started by the Museum team in archiving, scanning, analyzing and documenting images in the archive. Altogether we have partnerships with four faculties at the University of Bucharest: the Faculty of Political Science, the Faculty of History, the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Sociology and Social Work.

“For the Romanian Angel Appeal team, the Museum of Abandonment created the space and opportunity to not forget the story of the tens of thousands of children abandoned by the communist regime. I came to the Museum with a desire to donate photos without filters or special effects. In black and white or colour, with understated dramatic touches, it speaks to the Children deprived of love, AIDS, children dying, left in hospitals in their last days. The story should be remembered for future generations as a lesson about the dark past in Romania’s modern history, which must not be repeated in any way. For this reason we are grateful to our colleagues at the Museum of Abandonment Allowing us to contribute to this extraordinary project!” – Silvia Asande, Managing Director of the Romanian Angel Appeal Foundation and part of the Foundation’s team since 1993.
The archive is under development and will gradually catalog tens of thousands of items from the disparate archives of the Museum’s partner NGOs, and photographic and written documents that will be part of the abandonment map. Some artifacts from the Museum of Abandonment’s archive have already been incorporated into complex curatorial approaches, such as Romania’s first immersive exhibition – Sighet Cămin Spital or Project Testimony 21, dozens of stories, documents, and story items can be accessed free of charge. During the coming period, it was announced that partnerships with the SERA Foundation and the Il Chicco Foundation will be actively emerging, in order to acquire tens of thousands of other related documents.

About the Museum of Immigration:
The Museum of Abandonment – The Digital and Participatory Museum Forum is an independent project initiated by Q-Arts. is a digital and participatory museum forum that aims to map the culture of abandonment and provide a historical account of child abandonment and institutionalization in Romania. The Museum of Abandonment project was awarded in May 2022 at the National Cultural Fund Administration (AFCN) Awards Ceremony with the Prize for Social Inclusion and Intercultural Dialogue.
ABANDONMENT MUSEUM is Romania’s first digital museum institution and contains the first virtual web application gallery that facilitates an interactive exploratory experience, with museum content that uses mixed methods of documentation ranging from archival research, interviews, testimonies, photo and video documentation, 360-degree photography and 3D scanning It is presented to the public in an interactive 3D format that borrows languages ​​specific to new media, video games, and virtual reality.
The project does not necessarily represent the position of the management of the National Cultural Fund. AFCN is not responsible for the content of the project or how the results of the project are used. This responsibility rests entirely with the beneficiary of the financing.

Q-Arts . Press Release

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