Historical Children´s and Youth Drawings and the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme

What is the UNESCO Memory of the World?

„What is Memory of the World? The Memory of the World is the documented, collective memory of the peoples of the world – their documentary heritage – which in turn represents a large proportion of the world’s cultural heritage. It charts the evolution of thought, discovery and achievement of human society. It is the legacy of the past to the world community of the present and the future.“

https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000125637. Ray Edmondson. 2002. Character of the Programme 2.2.1.: 5

Till today, there is explicitly no entry in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register dedicated to the memory of children and young people.

Sharing and Teaching

Why mediate historical children’s and youth drawings in the sense of UNESCO peace education and the UNESCO world documentary heritage in education? The drawings illustrate as cultural heritage, documents and sources in a universal and authentic way:

  • Historical events in the 19th or 20th centuries.
  • They provide references to biographies, school cultures and living environments of adolescents. At the same time, they are an expression of identities and environments and culture.
  • They refer to the rights and concerns of children / Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC / https://www.kinderrechtskonvention.info/).

January 2018. Activities in a Museum coffer exhibition in the Nebra visitor center © Photo: Jutta Ströter-Bender

Small Archives and Museum coffers

One internationally proven approach is to design small, portable archive or a museum coffer to present, contextualize and create historical drawings of children and young people.

This medium is most suitable for portraying the complexity of historical children´s and youth drawings. Museum coffers are a didactic medium in which various traditional functions of the MUSEUM context are “condensed” into a singular, portable space; such as collecting and storing, archiving, recording, curating, presenting, staging and imparting information. The idea of transportable museum archives started with the advent of children’s museum. Since then, they are part of the preparatory educational to mediate cultural heritage. This medium is now considered to be impressive and successful within the framework of discovery. Museum coffers generally contain selected representative materials (originals, as well as replicas), associated with complete teaching units and creative access.

The concept is therefore closely linked to the culture of a sensible experience for adolescents. Objects in museum cases and archive boxes can be used to tell stories, explore unknown perspectives, discoveries and new approaches are possible.

See:  The digital museum coffers archive


Small archive boxes with photos and postcards. Research for historical children’s drawings: Children in winter time, Lena Heller. Photo box. © Photo: Jutta Ströter-Bender

Around 1927. Winter. Drawing of a teenage girl. © Jutta Ströter-Bender Collection

Box with photos, self-designed information booklet, photos and drawings. The story of the thanks pictures of children and young people for the Swiss food aid in the post-war period (1946-1948), Jennifer Yanik. © Photo: Jutta Ströter-Bender

An old teacher’s bag tells with numerous original materials (from the flea market) the importance of May 1st as the celebration on labour day in the history of the GDR. Bag designed by Anna-Lina Ibrahim. © Photo: Jutta Ströter-Bender

Drawing: May 1st. Celebration, Girl (8 years) not dated. © Birgit-Dettke-Archiv, Kinderkunst e.V., ERFURT

A museum coffer by Regina Koop presents the biography and exceptional art-pedagogical teaching method of Wilhelm Daiber (1888-1972). This dedicated art teacher collected the children’s drawings from his village school in Stein / near Nuremberg (Germany). They belong today to the collection of the School museum, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. © Photo: Jutta Ströter-Bender

Alina Behrens presents with this museum coffer the story of a German boy in the time of National Socialism (1933-1945). His fictional biography is shown by using original objects, drawings, photographs and documents. The coffer traces his short life path – from his enthusiasm for the fascists’ ideology to his death as a very young soldier 1944 in Russia. © Photo: Jutta Ströter-Bender