Strategy type (tool, event, training course, etc.)
Museum-educational program

Scope of the practice (local, national, international level)

When did it start/end?
August 2018 - April 2019

Organization and person of reference
Aida Šarac, Museum educator at National art Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina

City and country
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Ива Младенова

1. Describe your project briefly
Blue artism is museum program for the children within Autistic Spectrum.
Half of the participants were from regular inclusive school system and other half were from special school system. By using the original artworks from the museum collection we wanted to bridge the cognitive obstacles in the understanding of the world that surround those children, and to show them their own and emotions of other people. We have met their individual social, communication, education and other specific skills. The program lasted for 6 months and during which we gathered in different exhibition context to discuss art, play museum card games and different kinds of tactile exercises, self evaluate emotions and most of all to create art with different materials.
The participants were not alone, they were accompanied with their peers. At the end of the program, the selection of the artworks that were created during the process was made and the exhibition at the museum was installed. This exhibition was a motive to organize workshops for typical children to whom we could explain the perspective of their peers within the Autistic spectrum. The group of 6 boys who participated at the program, became a regular group of young artists, who continued to exhibit their in the city Galleries of Sarajevo.

2. What is the aim of the project? 

To empower artisans in developing economies (despite language and technology barriers) and consumers in developed economies to exchange letters with one another thereby breaking down the stereotypes that each held about the other. To date we have had more than 4,000 letters exchange hands. 

3. Who was involved in designing process?

The structure of the methodology, museum-educational outcomes, topics on which the discussions about the artworks was led, the selection of the artworks and the exhibition at the end was designed by Aida Šarac, museum educator at National Art Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina. By her profession Aida is an Art Historian and she has finished Art high school at the Painting department. The Blue artism methodology at this point is her's master thesis. Other people that were involved in the process were photographer and two student (Pedagogy and Psychology) assistants. The assistants designed the observation sheets.

4. If you could change something, what would you change?
I would sign an agreement with a NGO who protects the rights of socially sensitive group of children from Autistic Spectrum with whom I would like to collaborate, in order to oblige them to do their part of the job. In the pilot project, the NGO that we were in collaboration with, gave up in the middle of the project.

5. How do the project impact on civil society? 
The Blue artism is breaking stereotypes about children on the Autistic Spectrum by presenting them as individuals who can realize and sustain social connections with their typical peers in the constructive context of an art museum. 
By presenting the participants of the program as the artists which can maintain concentration and focus to finish a demanding artwork, they received equal merits. The program showed that children on the Autistic Spectrum can be integrated into any public cultural or other event by the safe transition to a new place and by carefully monitoring the individual needs.
The Blue artism exhibition had huge impact on the local community of the museum: the regular visitors, academic citizens and whole range of artists. Because the word Autism was not mentioned in the following materials of the exhibition, it was hard to assume what kind of exhibition was it. Was it a an abstract exhibition, an exhibition of group of the artist or just artworks that plays with visitors perception. Except the Sarajevo, the exhibition was installed in another city in Bosnia and Herzegovina - Zenica, where also the mentioned workshops for typical children were held. The workshops gave the typical children an insight how does a person from Autistic Spectrum sees the world that surrounds them. During this workshops, typical children could learn empathy and tolerance towards their peers that are different. The program and the exhibition made persons from Autistic Spectrum a regular artists who can participate and co-create museum contents and make them accessible to the public as any other typical artist.


6. How do you evaluate the project’s impact?
The impact of the project on the six participants was evaluated by the observation sheets that were designed by students of Pedagogy and Psychology during the whole six months process. The observations measured different emotional manifestations (pleasure and non-pleasure during the cognitive and creative activities), cognitive manifestations (understanding and non-understanding of the tasks and topics), occurrence and frequency of the stereotypes common to persons within autistic Spectrum and manifestations of socialization between the participants, participants and project stuff and between the participants and typical children. The behaviour and teaching skills of the Museum Educator were observed, along with her's communication and verbal steps towards the participants. Also, every of the workshops were secretively filmed, so the museum educator could subsequently consider behaviours of the participants. The impact of the project on civil society was measured quantitatively by the number of people and organized groups of children who visited the exhibition. And also by the number of journalists and televisions who were interested to share the story on Blue artism.

7. Is there anything else would you like to share with us? 

After the program was implemented in the capital city of Sarajevo at National Art Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it was also implemented in a shorter scale with a group of youth with developmental disabilities during the fall of 2019. in a small city named Gračanica in a private gallery Art Center Gračanica, where the participants exhibited their artworks along with the young artist in residency from France Camille Bleu-Valentine. The program has gained it's digital version that we have created by the identified cognitive barriers in the perception of art. So we decided to offer this socially sensitive group and alternative form of interpretation via android tablet application named ARTsee. The app scans the QR code of the selected artwork and offers to user three types of alternative interpretations: animation, sound and text on three different cognitive levels. The application is in home adjustment process due to the social gathering restrictions caused by Corona virus.