70. The Gabrovo Museum of Humor Bolsters Its Legacy of Political Satire Post-Communism


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In which I visit a small town in the Bulgarian mountains which once claimed to be the Communist capital of humor and learn that the Gabrovo Museum of Humor and Satire has had to reinvent itself to interpret a global, meme-driven, internet-forged culture where most visitors now live.

I was also delighted to find that the current director of the museum, Margarita Dariskova, has a sense of humor.

"When we speak of political satire, do not imagine the general secretary of the party being satirized. It was very clear to what level the satire can reach. So satire was an instrument in the hands of good communists to fight those who abused power, but to certain level." - Margarita Dariskova

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In this episode, Dariskova take me on a tour of the museum's new children's collaborative experience called Garden Town. Featuring recycling that needs sorting, empty voting booths, and graffiti walls, the exhibit is designed to make young Bulgarians aware of their civic spaces, and features the delightful subtitle, "where mischief has a happy end!"

Children's exhibits are still a rarity in Bulgaria. The first children's museum, Muzeiko opened in Sofia in 2015. Episode 46 of Museum Archipelago features an interview with Muzeiko's Programs and Exhibits Director, Vessela Gercheva about paving the way for other museums.

Club Archipelago🏖️

Gabrovo is not far from the Buzludzha monument -- in fact, you can see the ominous disc of concrete towering above from certain points in the city. In last week's special episode of Club Archipelago, I visit the monument again, reflecting on its continued deterioration and my evolving thoughts on what to do about it.