Post-Memorial Exhibitions: A Design Approach to Negotiate Cultural Trauma

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School of Sciences and Humanities Research Institute, University of El Salvador


In this chapter I draw from the case of the armed conflict in El Salvador (1980-1992) to explore how museum exhibition design shaped the memories of the armed conflict of descendants of former war refugees. I report on the process of a participatory design workshop with seven youth and account for the role of the exhibition process in helping participants making sense of their feelings and beliefs associated with a conflict that partly shapes their lives even though these youth were born more than a decade after the Peace Accord. I refer to such design process and its outcomes as a post-memorial exhibition. Post-memorial exhibitions represent an addition to the methodological toolkit of scholars interested in working with memorial museums and sites as well as those interested in transitional justice. By creating a safe space where participants can engage cognitively and emotionally with the fragmented memories of their local, post-conflict context, post-memorial exhibitions can serve both as instruments of sense making and probes for intergenerational dialogue. Future work should also explore tweaking with the design process to promote critical thinking about the past, streamlining the design pipeline to mitigate attrition, and further investigating the role of play in making sense of social memories of violence among youth.



postmemorial exhibitions, memorial museums, exhibition design, cultural trauma


Martell, A. A. (2023). Las Exhibiciones Posmemoriales: Una Aproximación para Negociar el Trauma Cultural desde el Diseño Museístico. In C. B. Lara Martínez (Ed.), Memoria Histórica y Transformación Sociocultural en El Salvador (pp. 113–161). Instituto de Investigaciones de la Facultad de Ciencias y Humanidades, Universidad de El Salvador (INICH).


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