chapter  1
The restorative museum
Understanding the work of memory at the Museum of Refugee Memory in Skala Loutron, Lesvos, Greece
WithAndrea Witcomb, Alexandra Bounia
Pages 9

Lesvos is one of the Greek islands nearest to the coast of Asia Minor. Facing Ayvalik, on the Turkish coast, it stands as sentinel between Europe and Asia, as well as between past and present, receiving and sending people from across the seas. The Museum of Refugee Memory was established in 2003 and opened to the public in 2006. Unlike other museums in Greece and elsewhere, however, the objects in the Museum of Refugee Memory are not expected to speak for themselves. The role of articulating, enacting, and performing memory has been taken over by the museum founders who take visitors around, providing more than just a tour. The Museum both restores the humanity of the first wave of refugees and seeks to ensure that this recognition continues to others in the future.