The International Humanitarian Studies Association is a network engaged with the study of humanitarian crises caused by natural disaster, conflict or political instability.

Social Museology and Social Role of Museums: case study Humanity House

Submitted by Lisette Mattaar
For panel Social Museology and Social Role of Museums

In this case study, I will discuss the social and educational role of the Humanity House in The Hague. The core themes of the Humanity House are war&conflict, humanitarian aid and refugees. Humanity House aims to raise discussion and broaden knowledge about these topics and contribute to a better understanding of refugees and people in conflict.
Humanity House does this through educational programs, its museum and lectures & debates. In this presentation I will analyse the impact of Humanity House on the attitude of visitors and students towards refugees and humanitarian organizations and its contribution to ‘world citizenship’.

The Museum
Humanity House believes in the power of experiences, stories and personal encounters. Therefore, we let the visitors embark on a journey through our museum and see, hear and experience personally what it must feel like to flee from war or conflict. After this journey, visitors can virtually meet eight refugees, from eight different countries around the world, each with a story unlike any other. Each personal story is linked to a theme such as 'peace', 'reconciliation' and 'human rights'. Those subjects can be difficult to comprehend, but hearing the eight different stories makes it easier to grasp them and feel their effect. Also these eight different stories show that there’s no such thing as ‘the refugee’ but there are plenty of reasons why people seek refuge.

Humanity House offers many educational programmes, from primary and secondary school to higher education. The programmes raise awareness and stimulate discussion about themes such as relief aid, war, disasters and refugees, enabling pupils to broaden their view of the world and to form their own opinions about daily reality and the importance of peace, human rights and international collaboration.

During my presentation I will give more insight into how we use experiences, personal encounters and personal stories in our museum and how we use this to create more awareness among students. I will also discuss what refugees think about the social and educational role of our museum.