National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina

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National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Sarajevo National Museum of Bosnia and Hercegovina.JPG
Established 1850
Location Ulica Zmaja od Bosne 3
Website www.zemaljskimuzej.ba

The National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Zemaljski Muzej Bosne i Hercegovine) is located in central Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was established in 1888, having originally been conceived around 1850. In 1913, the museum was enlarged by the Czech architect Karel Pařík who designed a structure of four symmetric pavilions with a facade in Italian Renaissance architecture. The four pavilions contain the departments of archaeology, ethnology, natural history, and a library. After being closed for several years due to heavy damage in the recent war, the museum has re-opened and is in the process of mounting new and pre-existing exhibits.

The museum is a cultural and scientific institution covering a wide range of areas including archaeology, art history, ethnology, geography, history and natural history. The Sarajevo Haggadah, an illuminated manuscript and the oldest Sephardic Jewish document in the world issued in Barcelona around 1350, containing the traditional Jewish Haggadah, is held at the museum.

It has a library with 162,000 volumes.[1]

On 4 October 2012, after 124 years of operation the institution closed its doors due to ongoing disputes about its funding.[2] It did not get any funding in 2011, and in January 2012, the local government allocated funding which would be sufficient to pay existing utility bills but not to prevent the closure in the future.[3]

History and Governance[edit]

Museum Development[edit]

The museum is the oldest cultural and scientific institution in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Though conceived in 1850 as an idea by the Ottomans when they ruled Sarajevo, it was not until the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (which captured modern day Bosnia and Herzegovina from the Ottomans in 1878) that the museum was officially established and built.[4]

1888-1913[edit]

Part of the Austro-Hungarian policy goals was to raise literacy levels and maintain European-standard education. Under their administration, a Museum Society was formed on February 1, 1888 in order to further this agenda in the form of a museum. The first director of the museum was Mr. Kosta Hörmann, an advisor to the Austro-Hungarian government. Greatly influenced by the orientation of 19th-century European science heuristics and culture, the museum's collection under Hörmann grew rapidly especially in the departments of natural history and archaeology. By the early 20th century, the museum began to outgrow its original premises and in 1908, construction on a new building to house the museum's collections began. Construction on the new building completed in 1913 and the Museum was officially opened on October 4 of that year. Throughout this all, the museum was funded by the Austro-Hungarian's departments of education and culture as well as by private donations and charity events led by the Museum Society.[5]

1913-1992[edit]

With the opening of the museum in its new home in 1913 (where it still remains), its collections that varied from history, geography, archaeology (prehistoric, ancient and mediaeval), ethnology, history of art and natural history (biology, geology and mineralogy), and to some extent language, literature, statistics and bibliography, were divided into four buildings based on a new set of categories: Archaeology, Ethnology, Natural History, and the Library.

Two years later in 1914, as World War I began, the museum suspended its operations. After the end of the war in 1918, which was followed by the first union of the South Slavs, the museum resumed its operations under the administration of what was then called the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which was later known as Yugoslavia. Under this administration, which lasted during the interwar years of 1918-1945, a hegemonic centralized administration was developed in which the judicial branch of government along with the Serbian bourgeoisie, paid very little economic and cultural attention to Bosnia and Herzegovina. This led to an abrupt socio-economic, political and cultural decay in Sarajevo as it found itself in the margins of the Kingdom. The National Museum thus lost much of its funding and clout and was beginning to lose its ability to maintain and archive its artifacts. As World War II approached in 1941 (and lasted till 1945), the National Museum's troubles further developed as its opportunities to operate diminished. It was during this war-time period that the National Museum experienced the least activity and development.[6]

After World War II, under a Socialist Yugoslavia, the National Museum made slow progress until the early part of the 1960s. Culture was declared to be of special importance for society by the Socialist Government and this period in time marked some of the National Museum's highest achievements in scientific research and publishing activities and exhibitions. The publications include: "Zbornik srednjovjekovnih natpisa Bosne i Hercegovine" I (1962), II (1964), III (1964), IV (1970); Sergejevski, D.: "Bazilika u Dabravini" (1956); Benac, A. & Čović, B.: "Glasinac" I (1956), II (1957); Pašalić, E.: "Antička naselja i komunikacije u BiH" (1960); Čulić, Z. : "Narodne nošnje u BiH" (1963); Buturović, Đ.: "Narodne pjesme Muslimana u BiH" (1966); Vuković, T. & Ivanović, B.: "Slatkovodne ribe Jugoslavije" (1971); Đurović, E, Vuković, T. & Pocrnjić, Z. : "Vodozemci BiH" (1979); Šilić, Č.: "Monografija rodova Satureja L, Calamintha Miller, Micromeria Bentham, Acinos Miller i Clinopodium L. u flori Jugoslavije" (1979); Trubelja, F. & Barić, LJ. : "Minerali BiH" Vol. I, Silikati (1979); Čović, B.: "Pod kod BugojnA. Naselje bronzanog i željeznog doba u centralnoj Bosni" I: Rano bronzano dobA. (1991); Mediaeval tombstones of Bosnia and Herzegovina:Benac; A.: "Radimlja" (1950); Benac, A.: "Široki Brijeg" (1952); Sergejevski, D.: "Ludmer" (1952); Vego, M.: "Ljubuški" (1954); "Anali Zemaljskog muzeja in Sarajevo" (1961, 1938 - 1962, 1963, 1964, 1966); "Spomenica stogodišnjice rada Zemaljskog muzeja BiH 1888 - 1988" (1988); Proceedings of the Scientific Conference "Minerali, stijene, izumrli i živi svijet BiH" (1988); International Symposium "Bosna i Hercegovina u tokovima istorijskih i kulturnih kretanja u jugoistočnoj Evropi" (1988).[7]

War in Bosnia and Herzegovina: 1992-1995[edit]

The War in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992-1995 not only ended the prolific activity of the National Museum, but it directly caused structural damage to the building. During this time, artillery shells crashed through the roof, 300 windows were broken, and many of its gallery walls torn down. Sections of the Museum’s artifacts and archives that could not be hidden were exposed to the elements or artillery. The Museum’s director at the time, Dr. Rizo Sijari, was killed by a grenade blast on December 10, 1993 while he was arranging the holes in the museum's building to be covered by UN relief plastic sheeting.[8]

1995-2012[edit]

After the end of the war, the museum reopened as a work in progress thanks to numerous donations and contributions by: the Institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments and National Museum, the Historical and Natural Heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNESCO, the Federal Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport,[9] the Institute for Planning and Construction of the City of Sarajevo, the International Peace Center in Sarajevo,[10] Swiss museums, Swiss ICOM and the Swiss National Museum in Zurich, BHHR, Norks Folkesmuseum from Oslo, the Swedish Cultural Heritage without Borders Foundation,[11] the Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Ethnography, the Museum of Islamic Art and other Swedish museums, as well as many others.

Departments and Exhibitions[edit]

The Department of Archaeology[edit]

The Department of Archaeology includes sections for prehistory, ancient history, mediaeval history, documentation and a conservation laboratory. The archaeological collections document all aspects of human life in Bosnia and Herzegovina from the Old Stone Age to the late Middle Ages. The artifacts of the collections have mainly been collected during field research, though some have been acquired by exchange, gift or purchase.[12]

Exhibitions[edit]

Bosnia and Herzegovina in Ancient History, Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Middle Ages.[13]

The Natural History Department[edit]

The Natural History Department covers the flora and fauna and the geology of Bosnia and Herzegovina and elsewhere, consitiing of around 2,000,000 specimens collected from field research,exchange, gift or purchase.The Department consists of a Geology Section, a Zoology Section and a Botany Section, the latter including the Botanical Garden.[14]

Exhibitions[edit]

Botanical Garden, Pleistocene and subfossil vertebrates of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Fauna of mountain rivers and streams, Cave fauna, Minerals, Rocks and ores, Flora and fauna of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Higher fungi (Macromycetes, Medicinal plants and endemic plants of the Dinarides,Mammals,Invertebrates and Birds of Bosnia and Herzegovina.[15]

The Ethnology Department[edit]

The Ethnology Department is responsible for collecting, preserving, exhibiting and studying all aspects of the material, spiritual and social culture of the peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since 1913, the Department has been arranged to illustrate a traditional urban house in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The collection of ethnological material began when the Museum was established in 1888, with the purchase of some very valuable ethnological artifacts such as sets of traditional costume. The Department is engaged in museological work, scientific research and educational work.[16]

Exhibitions[edit]

Dioramas and models,The life and Culture of Bosnia and Herzegovina's Urban Population in the 19th century, Which shirt is mine? - temporary exhibition.[17]

The Library of the National Museum[edit]

The Library of the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina was opened in 1888 as the first scientific library in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It contains about 250,000 publications (journals, periodicals, books, newspapers) in the fields of archaeology, history, ethnology, folklore, mineralogy, geology, botany, zoology and museology. Publications are now exchanged with 341 institutions.[18]

Funding Crisis and Museum Closure[edit]

National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina - posters on entrance

On Thursday, 4 October 2012, the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina closed after 124 years of existence.[19] Budgetary restraints have been stated as the main cause for the Museum's closure, although political and cultural issues have also been reported as contributing factors.[20] The Council of Europe noted: "After the war the different cultural groups, who define themselves as nations, have all wanted their own national cultural institutions."[21]

Several demonstrations took place to protest the Museum closing. Several students chained themselves to a pole in the lobby and remained inside, declaring they would stay there until the museum reopened. Dozens of others held a sit-in in front of the building.[22]

Leading up to its closure, the Museum's heating was turned off on 6 January 2012 and electricity went out on 26 September 2012.[23] The Museum's 65 employees came to work for over a year without being paid.[24]

Disputed Items[edit]

The Sarajevo Haggadah, a 600-year-old Jewish manuscript and one of Bosnia's most prized relics, remains locked inside the closed Museum in a high-security glass case.[25] The manuscript, handwritten on bleached calfskin, dates to the once-thriving Jewish community in Spain and describes events ranging from the Creation to the Jewish exodus from ancient Egypt to the death of Moses.[26] It is estimated to be worth over 700 million dollars.[27]

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art Metropolitan offered in November 2012 to host the relic for three years, but the country's Commission for the Preservation of National Monuments rejected the offer due to the unresolved legal status of the National Museum. Additionally, moving the document to New York would require special care, but the funds needed to prepare for the transfer are unavailable.[28]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bosnia and Herzegovina - Libraries and museums
  2. ^ Bosnia's National Museum Shuts Down
  3. ^ "Bosnia’s National Museum, facing closure due to unpaid bills, gets a reprieve - The Washington Post". The Washington Post (Washington DC: WPC). 5 January 2012. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 7 January 2012. 
  4. ^ "Establishment of the Museum". 
  5. ^ "Establishment of the Museum". 
  6. ^ "Development of the Museum". 
  7. ^ "Publishing Activity: National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina". 
  8. ^ Riedlmayer, András (July 1995). "Erasing the Past: The Destruction of Libraries and Archives in Bosnia - Herzegovina". Middle East Studies Association: Bulletin. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  9. ^ "Federal Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Bosnia and Herzegovina". 
  10. ^ "International Peace Center in Sarajevo". 
  11. ^ "The Swedish Foundation: Cultural Heritage without Borders". 
  12. ^ "Archaeology Department". National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  13. ^ "Archaeology Department". National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovinia. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  14. ^ "Natural History Department". National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  15. ^ "Natural History Department". National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  16. ^ "Ethnology Department". The National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovinia. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  17. ^ "Ethnology Department". The National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovinia. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  18. ^ "Library of the National Museum of BiH". The National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovinia. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  19. ^ "Bosnia's National Museum closes after 124 years". Yahoo! Finance. 4 October 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  20. ^ "Bosnia's National Museum is latest victim of political funding crisis". The Guardian. 3 October 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  21. ^ "Bosnia's National Museum is latest victim of political funding crisis". The Guardian. 3 October 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  22. ^ "Bosnia's National Museum closes after 124 years". Yahoo! Finance. 4 October 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  23. ^ "Bosnia's National Museum is latest victim of political funding crisis". The Guardian. 3 October 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  24. ^ "Bosnia's National Museum closes after 124 years". Yahoo! Finance. 4 October 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  25. ^ "Bosnia's National Museum Shuts Its Doors, A Victim Of Dayton's Legacy". Radio Free Europe. 10 March 2012. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  26. ^ Cerkez, Aida (13 February 2013). "Sarajevo Haggadah: Bosnia's Prized Jewish Manuscript Won't Show In NYC". Huffington Post. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  27. ^ "Bosnia's National Museum Shuts Its Doors, A Victim Of Dayton's Legacy". Radio Free Europe. 10 March 2012. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  28. ^ Cerkez, Aida (13 February 2013). "Sarajevo Haggadah: Bosnia's Prized Jewish Manuscript Won't Show In NYC". Huffington Post. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°51′16″N 18°24′09″E / 43.8545°N 18.4025°E / 43.8545; 18.4025