Facts for Real

Collections and Communities

22. June 2024. – 25. August
MegnyitóOpening: June 21, 2024, 6:00 pm

Throughout its nearly 30-year history, the Blinken OSA Archivum has prioritized openness and accessibility as the guiding principles of its archival, research, teaching, and public programs. In the same spirit, the collective research and exhibition project, Facts for Real: Collections and Communities, promotes a more inquisitive and discursive approach to the Archivum’s collections, highlighting for the very first time the most prestigious and compelling items in our holdings. We aim to activate the collection by involving diverse communities, starting with our own staff and extending to researchers, students, donors, and visitors.

In recent years, the Archivum has sought to engage with communities previously underrepresented or overlooked in archival research. Projects like Records Uncovered, exploring LGBTQI+ histories in Central and Southeastern Europe in collaboration with Háttér Archive and Library, and ongoing research on Roma history and heritage in collaboration with Romaversitas and CEU’s Romani Studies Program, illustrate this new approach.

These initiatives prompted us to adopt bottom-up methods and question the ownership, selection, preservation, and interpretation of records, striving for inclusive archival practices. Throughout the past few months, we have consulted extensively within our community, discussing these questions with colleagues and identifying collections that resonate most with us. We have also reached out to other communities (to representatives of the LGBTQI+ and Roma communities) to broaden our engagement.

The result of this collective effort consists of a carefully and collectively woven net of different collection items, covering different eras, areas, topics, and languages. The plethora of various collections in the Archivum’s holdings, the day-to-day archival work (digitization, description, etc.) sometimes distracts us from the individual objects. (Re)discovering the items on display here was like unearthing hidden gems within ores. As we reconnected with our various collections, the many links between the Records of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Research Institute, our human rights collections, the different archives of international organizations, and personal documents were brought to life.

These connections reveal a larger story of (slowly) awakening societies in Central and Eastern Europe from the 1950s onward, and tell the stories of indefatigable people striving to build and protect trust (and community), and to give people a voice during the Cold War and beyond. Despite their varied and unique nature, the Archivum’s collections exemplify consistent values and ideals that support the development of societies, communities, and democracies. Our exhibition highlights these values alongside our materials, while also drawing attention to the collective process of immersing ourselves in the Archivum’s holdings, sharing the joy of (re)discovering hidden stories within our archives.