They Never Had it Better?
They Never Had it Better?
Ljubljana, 11.10.2016 – 30.6.2017
Authors: Ana Panić, Igor Duda, Ivana Dobrivojević, Nataša Strlič, Katarina Jurjavčič

Modernization of Everyday Life in Socialist Yugoslavia

The exhibition of the Museum of Yugoslav History from Belgrade (Serbia), which can be seen from October 2016 to July 2017, tells in words and pictures and, above all, with various exhibits, the story of everyday life in Socialist Yugoslavia (1945-1991). It leads visitors through the rhythm of life of Yugoslav citizens (from enrolment in kindergarten to retirement) and the rhythm of the years (with a presentation of six holidays, from New Year to Day of the Republic).

The exhibition has been conceived as a travelling partnership installation, since the museums in which it is hosted actively cooperate, they create its content and set it in the local context, both with exhibits from their own collections and collections of related institutions, as well as those which, together with stories, museum visitors donate or loan. Its aim is an attractive and professional exhibition for visitors and, at the same time, a collecting campaign by which we wish to enrich the collections of the National Museum of Contemporary History with the most typical items from this period. From legendary Meblo lights of living colour and the first Slovene comic magazine Zvitorepec, to hulahoops and homemade balls.

Our museum has enriched the travelling, billboard part of the exhibition with items that some visitors will see for the first time, in others it will give rise to memories, while others again still use them. A primary school bag, toys from Mehanotehnika of Izola, records to which various generations listened, clothing that brigadiers wore on youth working actions, Elan skis of mountain units of the YLA and a cooling bag, Jugoplastika bathing slippers and an original miniature of an Adria caravan. On view will also be clothes by Mura and bambola, a doll in luxurious nylon clothing that formerly ornamented many homes, and of the more popular vehicles of Slovene Socialism, a Pony bicycle by Rog and the Tomos motorbike Colibri etc.

Visitors can among other things walk through a 40-year-old Marles kitchen, see elements of a sitting room and a reconstruction of secretarial premises and the work of a secretary at the time of Socialism.

The presented themes are supplemented by a selection of films from the Slovene film archive and the testimony of persons of various job profiles, who worked as miners, secretaries etc., and each experienced life under Socialism in their own way.

Part of the exhibition is set up in front of the Museum and can also be viewed by passers-by. The black and white and colour photographs of everyday life on billboards in front of the museum building, which thematically cover eleven exhibition themes (from childhood to holidays), are from the collection of the National Museum of Contemporary History. They were taken by various photographers at various periods of the former common state.

At the same time, they are an invitation to view the exhibition. Both for generations that never experienced Socialist Yugoslavia and those who, on the basis of their own experience, can answer the question in the title: “Has it really never been better?”.