After the earthquake… not a novel by Haruki Murakami

Banovina heritage room, Image: Martina Mladenovic


Can cultural institutions function without a building? What is an interpretation centre without its centre? Banovina Heritage IC has an answer.

Banovina Heritage Interpretation Centre is a cultural institution founded by Sisak-Moslavina County with the aim of presenting and promoting the cultural, historical and natural heritage of the Banovina area. We organise exibitions, lectures, workshops, cultural-historical field trips and have published four coloring books with motifs of Banovina folk costumes and an ethnological photo/story book of the Banovina area. The Centre partners with numerous local, national and international institutions, NGOs and communities.

Some of our activities include:

  • documenting, exhibiting and registering one Petrinja family pottery collection into the national cultural goods register, creating and online collection catalogue and two computer games based on the objects from the collection
  • making a replica coin of the Zrinski nobles, whose money forgery was set in the Banovina area, and organising the Zrinski Industrial Route – a field trip with historical lectures on the Zrinski nobles and Banovina industrial heritage
  • implementation of a Banovina Seed Bank – a project funded by the national NGO foundation
  • illustrating and kamishibai-theatre performing three fairy tales from Banovina to children all over Croatia
  • implementing projects that refurbished the Centre’s back yard in traditional ethno Banovina style: garden, wooden furniture, wooden and traditional lamps and equipment etc.
  • creating a permanent exibition presenting the traditional Banovina village ethno-style room

It sounds nice, doesn’t it? A lot of activities, exhibitions, projects, collaborations and partnerships… well, at least that’s what we DID… until an earthquake hit us on 29 December 2020 and left the whole city of Petrinja, a large part of Banovina and our beautiful Centre included, in ruins.

Dealing with earthquake consequences in all areas of human life is not easy; people are forced to start life again from the beginning, and for Banovina residents it means creating life from the beginning – again (having already suffered during the Homeland war 1991-1995).

For our Banovina Heritage Interpretation Centre it also means creating all from the beginning – again. Founded in 2016, the Centre operated two full years without its residence (our beautiful building was being renovated), then in 2018 we moved in and enjoyed creating exhibitions and activities in our building and yard until the end of December when the 6.4 magnitude earthquake left us homeless again. So, you might ask yourself, “What do they do now, with no building?”

Well, these are some of our activities performed after the earthquake:

  • organising and performing workshops, theatre shows, coloring book promotions for Banovina kindergartens and schools
  • implementing the project, ‘Wooden houses’, funded by the Ministry of Culture
  • preparing the Petrinja family pottery collection for permanent protection with the Ministry of Culture
  • creating a permanent show with the pottery collection as a theme
  • organising seed exchanges and gardening workshops
  • preparing the exhibitions that will take place either in partner institutions or in open spaces
  • taking part in various projects and activities run by partners and fellow institutions

See, not much is different from the time when we had a residence. Our goal is to interpret heritage everywhere, anytime in any conditions with anyone willing to participate. And so we do it, with a building or without it, painfully aware that in these harsh times our culture is the one thing that lifts people’s spirit up, gives motivation, inspiration and joy of creating new ways, new buildings, new energy – leaving the earthquake to become (Banovina) heritage itself.

Martina Mladenovic holds degrees in Journalism and Museology. She is Head of the Banovina Heritage Interpretation Centre in Petrinja, Croatia (www.icbb.hr). She can be contacted at: martina.mladenovic@icbb.hr.

To cite this article: Mladenovic, Martina (2021) ‘After the earthquake… not a novel by Haruki Murakami’ in Interpret Europe Newsletter 2-2021, 25-26.

Available online: https://interpret-europe.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Newsletter-Summer-2021.pdf

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