The National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina is celebrating its 135th anniversary on February 1. The birthday will be celebrated with an all-day program from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and entrance for visitors will be free.
In addition to permanent exhibitions in all three departments, they also prepared rich additional content for all ages, with a special emphasis on museum publishing. The most valuable museum exhibit – the Sarajevo Haggadah, will be available in two times – from 12 to 1 pm and from 8 to 10 pm, and museum publications will be discounted up to 50 percent on February 1, for the birthday.
As the director of the museum, Mirsad Sijarić, told the Anatolia Agency (AA), after the reconstruction supported by the ALIPH Foundation (International alliance for the protection of heritage in conflict areas), the Department of Ethnology is back in use.
“We welcome this birthday with good news. We have officially finished the project with the ALIPH Foundation, whose headquarters are in Switzerland, but within it there are seven or eight countries. They are big investors and invest in war zones and post-conflict zones – they repair museums, various monuments in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan… Although 30 years have passed since the war, we are happy to have received their support. With their money, we worked in three departments. In archaeology, the natural department and mostly in ethnology. We completely replaced all the depots, and we did the entire ethnology building. The Swedish Embassy also helped here, and instead of the planned 25 percent of the building, we did almost 100 percent. This space is now being put into use. All the lighting, installations and air conditioning were replaced… Because foreigners are ready to invest money in serious things, and ours are ready to give money only in nonsense. Foreigners give money for serious things that are expensive and maintain the infrastructure. Ours would only give money for lighting. I often used to say to them: ‘You all want to do make-up on a dead man, but you have to get the man on his feet first, and then do the make-up on him’. Specifically, they asked to light up the facade, which would be fine if they repaired it first,” said Sijarić.
The connection with the ALIPH Foundation to the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina was made by the famous Louvre Museum from Paris, and it was supported by the Embassy of France in Sarajevo.
“In the evening, there will be an exhibition at the Department of Ethnology, “Heritage Protection for Peace Building” of the ALIPH Foundation, where they will present where and what they do. They invited representatives of various museums and institutions from Bosnia and Herzegovina to introduce themselves, so that they too could ask for some help from them. They spend hundreds of millions annually on projects. I am also very glad that they expressed their desire to visit some other institutions in BiH, and we proposed to go to Goražde. We will try to convince them that it would be good for them to invest money, because we care that attention should be paid to smaller places in BiH, which deserve it, especially Goražde, because it is one of the most important points in BiH in terms of cultural and historical heritage which is neglected, or not explored. We want to help build certain infrastructure, and the National Museum will be available with its knowledge and experience, primarily in the field of restoration and conservation. Our aim and desire is to help the local community, to employ a few people, and if possible to create a space where they could collect material”, explained Sijarić.
The old problems of the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina – unresolved legal status and lack of professional staff – are still current.
“We especially feel the lack of professional staff, even though we now have 50 percent of the funds for cold storage and salaries secured. The rest we should, that is, we are trying to compensate through various projects”, Sijarić pointed out.
In February, after the birthday celebration, they are expecting a team of experts from the USA and Canada, with whom they have been collaborating for some time on researching the exhibits of the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which have never been presented to the public.
“That team would work with us on the subjects in order to prepare a very interesting exhibition in the coming period on ethnology, especially on the material that is in our museum, which has not been published until now, and which will surely arouse great interest of the public. We do not have exact information on when these items were brought to the museum. The collection is large and we will try to make an interesting selection. We will try to make it this year, but these foreigners are very careful in the sense that they don’t want to do things that are not 100 percent protected. That is why conservation and restoration await us first. In particular, the exhibits in question are probably from the 17th or 18th century and testify to a Bosnian man who even then had incredible knowledge, and even knew sciences that were not typical for that time. There is talk in the world that such a thing exists, it is suspected, and we are the first to have proof. And considering that we are still investigating, I can tell you that the exhibits are on the same level as the Haggadah in terms of importance,” Sijarić said.
The National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina preserves three million exhibits, a good part of which is exhibited in permanent exhibition settings that count three departments – the Department of Archaeology, the Department of Natural Sciences and the Department of Ethnology. All these years it has developed to the status of the most important contemporary scientific, educational and cultural institution in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and it is often called the birth certificate and DNA of all Bosnians and Herzegovina.