Rom san - We are Roma

At Gothenburg City Museum, Sweden
Rom san – we are Roma is a temporary exhibition made by Romani people inside the museum instead of a museum exhibition about Romani people. It has been produced by Romani people in collaboration with Gothenburg City Museum.
The content of the exhibition builds on the book with the same name produced by the project. Through photo documentation, stories and personal narratives a larger narrative has been produced which is the nucleus of the exhibition.
Through the project Rom san – we are Roma, Gothenburg City Museum wants to achieve a change of attitudes towards, increased knowledge about and to counteract discrimination of Romani people in society. The project builds on the principle of Romani inclusion and wants to change the stereotype of Romani people in society and the minds of people. The target was also to create a meeting place, for the Romani groups and also for majority and minority.
Through an exhibition, a book, an educational program for museum professionals, school programmes and an extensive public program the project has been able to affect visitors, museum staff and policy makers within the Gothenburg municipality. The outcomes of the exhibition have been recorded through research, media visibility and feedback from visitors.

The participatory angle

This is a co-operation between 40 persons from the Romani people functioning as experts, activists and reference persons, free-lancing journalists and the Gothenburg City Museum. The initiative of the exhibition came from the Romani people and the Romani people involved has had a veto towards all decisions throughout the project. In an unique way the Romani people have had the interpretative prerogative and the right to stop decisions contradicting any belief of what is best for the Romani question.

Connecting to European 20th century history

The Romani history and Romani memories and experiences in Sweden and Europe is one of the most hidden and excluded heritages of the 20th century. Knowledge about and the integration of Romani is still minimal. Between 70-90 % of adult Romani are unemployed and the struggle against racism towards Romani people, anti-ziganism, has never fully been accepted. This is partly due to that the history of Romani people never has been recorded. A minority who´s history is based on oral tradition finds it more difficult to advocate for its situation and has weak ties to community. This leads to predigests flourishing and a marginalisation beyond society´s institutions and labour market.
The excluding processes that Romani people has been exposed to is a highly topical issue today. The European memory of the 20th century will not be complete without to history of the Romani people. Documentation and telling these stories is part of a the recreation and reconciliation of the Romani people but is also an important piece to fully understand European 20th century history and the kinships and alienations the modern society created.

How is it innovative?

Rom san – we are Roma is a temporary exhibition made by Romani people inside the museum instead of a museum exhibition about Romani people. The project is run by those who owns the question. It is a Romani initiative and the Romani people involved in the project have had influence over all questions concerning the project´s content and development. This has been regulated through a Veto – i.e. the Romani experts in the steering group had the interpretative prerogative and the right to stop decisions contradicting any belief of what is best for the Romani question.

Further information

We are Roma: stadsmuseum.goteborg.se

Contact

Maria Forneheim: maria.forneheim[at]kultur.goteborg.se
Cajsa Lagerkvist: cajsa.lagerkvist[at]kultur.goteborg.se
Gothenburg City Museum