70 YEARS

HISTORY MUSEUM OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

DISCOVER
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Collections & Research

HISTORY OF THE MUSEUM

The History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina aims to collect, preserve, explore, present, and promote the cultural and historical heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina. From its founding in 1945 until 1993, the Museum remained thematically focused on the history of antifascism during World War II and the cultivation of socialist state values. The name of the Museum, once Museum of the Revolution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, has changed several times, but it has always been recognizable. After being renamed the History Museum in 1993, the thematic structure of the Museum has also changed. Now the aim is to study the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina from the Middle Ages to present times.

 

The History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a unique cultural institution in Bosnia and Herzegovina which has become a space for dialogue about the past and different aspects of remembrance. The museum develops different programs and activities in order to help visitors talk about the past, present, and future through the museum collections.

 

The collection of archival material

Established: 1951

About the Collection

Archival material collected in previous decades has immeasurable value and importance for exhibits as well as for scientific research. It covers the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Although it has a valuable collection of manuscript materials from the period 1875 to 1941, the most significant and largest holdings are related to the period of World War II. Equally important is the material from the socialist period, which becomes more interesting for studies in the light of new research and current issues (such as the culture of memory).

The content of the Collections can be classified into two main groups of documents: archival documents and various printed materials. The first comprises: letters, decrees, reports, letters, regulations, notes, diaries, and operational plans. The second group includes leaflets, posters, charters, certificates, paper money, postage and revenue stamps as well as periodicals, brochures, albums, atlases and others.

 

What is the Museum most proud of?

Material from the archive collection is particularly interesting for researchers who are dealing with the history of World War II as well as those who are engaged in the socialist period of Bosnian history. The complete structure of the Ustasha Surveillance Service, the most powerful police establishment of the Independent Croatian state (during World War II), can be found in the collection and these materials have been used as basic source material for numerous scientific papers, doctorates, and publications of local and foreign researchers.

The collection of archival materials holds minutes and original decisions of the meetings of the First, Second, and Third ZAVNOBIH sessions (State Anti-fascist Council for the National Liberation of Bosnia and Herzegovina), where the issue(s) of the organization of Bosnia and Herzegovina within federal Yugoslavia was resolved in the period from 1943 to 1945. Even today, current slogans like: “Neither Serbian nor Croatian nor Muslim, but Serbian and Croatian and Muslim (Bosnia and Herzegovina),” as well as November 25, the date celebrated as Independence Day in our country, arise from these documents stored at the Museum.

The collection of the archives has a complete series of stamps, extremely valuable philatelic subcollections, as well as significant holdings of paper money from the Ottoman kaima to BAM (Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark). A large number of anti-Semitic posters, post cards, and letters from concentration camps are interesting material for exhibition in thematic museum exhibitions, some of them beyond the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The collection includes posters made by Ismar Mujezinović for the Olympic Games in Sarajevo in 1984.

Contact: Amar Karapuš

 

Collection of photographs

Established: 1950

About the Collection

Systematic gathering of photos for the Museum collection as primary museum documents began with the foundation of the Museum in 1947. The collection of photographs has been created by systematic gathering: Gifts, purchase, storage, exchange with other institutions and collectors (such as the EU Commission on War Crimes, individuals, associations of veterans of World War II, military organizations and some brigades, participants in the National Struggle for Liberation and their descendants , as well as gifts and exchanges with museum institutions in Zagreb, Belgrade, Kumrovec, and Novi Sad. The Museum also conducts fieldwork, collecting and systematically purchasing photographic material from private owners. Photographs in the Museum’s collections record details of the political, economic, and cultural life in the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina. These photos are valuable testimony from BiH history which is unknown or not sufficiently known to the public. Today, the Collection of Photographs of the History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina follows the course of history over the twentieth century to the independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina (including the last war, 1992-1995). Overall, the collection includes around 100 000 photos.

What is the Museum most proud of?

Photographic material held in the History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina has the status of original museum objects, serves as an example of collection practices, and is also a vital part of BIH’s photographic heritage. The collection includes photographs by significant photographic names like Walter Tausch, Georges Skrigin, Jan Beran, Šefket Maglajlić, Aleksa Škrbo, Ferdo Winterfeld, Ron Haviv, and Danilo Krstanović. Postcards from the late 19th century until 1945 are a valuable part of this collection. The contents present Bosnian towns, folk costumes, portraits of important figures, and reproductions of works of art. This sub-collection consists of about 3000 postcards.

Head of the Collection: Alma Leka

 

The collection of three-dimensional objects

Established: 1947

About the Collection

A collection of three-dimensional objects was assembled immediately after the end of World War II and the founding of the Museum. The items in the collection have been collected through donations, purchase, and exchange. The original goal of collecting activities was objects from the period of World War II, including weapons and military equipment, stamps from various levels of political and military authorities, medals and badges, and flags. Significant parts of the collection are personal items of prominent historical figures.

What is the Museum most proud of?

This collection serves scientific researchers, experts in military doctrine and weaponry, historians, biographers, and media representatives. Objects from the collection are often used by artists and filmmakers in filming documentaries.

We are proud to point out that within this collection is an armored train, an extraordinary rarity (there are only four such trains in the world). The public are most interested in the weapons and military equipment. The collection includes a large number of local batons from relay races that were run every year to celebrate Youth Day.

Head of the Collection: Amar Karapuš

 

Art Collection

Established: 1947

About the Collection

The Art Collection was assembled by ordering, purchase, and gifts from artists. It consists mostly of works inspired by social themes, World War II and the defense of the country from fascism and depicts battles, camps, the lives of ordinary people, and portraits of national heroes. A small number of artworks represent landscapes, self-portraits, and portraits related to the periods before 1941 and after 1945. The works in the collection, created in the period from 1923 to 2014, are made in the techniques of oil, watercolor, gouache, sepia, charcoal, ink, India ink, linocut, etching, pencil and others.

The collection reflects 110 important names in art, artists from Bosnia and Herzegovina: Vojo Dimitrijević, Ismet Mujezinović, Branko Šotra, Daniel Ozmo, Rizah Štetić, Jovan Bijelić, Roman Petrović, Peter Tiješić, Mica Todorović, Vilko Šeferov, Mario Mikulić, Mersad Berber and many others, as well as artists from other countries: Velibor Mačukatin, Božidar Jakac, Đorđe Andrejević-Kun, Ljubo Ravnikar, Stanislav Beložanski, Marijan Detoni, Krsto Hegedušić, Tode Ivanovski, Walter Kraus, Stane Kumar. There are also works of our prominent cartoonists: Hasan Fazlić, Adi Mulabegović and Pier Križanić. Besides works on paper and canvas, the collection also has sculptures made in bronze, marble, plaster and clay by Antun Augustinčić, Ljupko Antunović, Berta Baruh, Ibrahim Bilajac, Slavko Bril, Nandor Glid, Luka Ilić, Arfan Hozić and other artists, as well as tapesteries by Vojo Dimitrijević and Jagoda Buić.

Some objects from the collections decorate the interior of the Museum: The mosaic “Bosna” by the artist Mladen Srbinović, the relief in bronze “Uprising” by Valerije Michieli, the stained glass panel “Death to Fascism Freedom to People” by Vojo Dimitrijević, and the tapestry entitled “Brotherhood and Unity,” also by Vojo Dimitrijević.

What is the Museum most proud of?

Works with special importance in the art collection were created in the Jasenovac concentration camp in World War II: 3 sculptures by Slavko Bril and 32 drawings and watercolors by Daniel Ozmo, artists who died in the camp.

Head of the Collection: Svjetlana Hadžirović

 

Library

Established: 1947

About the Collection

Although first books in the collection were inventoried back in 1947, real organization and full development of the Library as a special collection began in 1963 when the museum moved to a new building and the library fund provided special storage as well as a modern reading room. The library was previously oriented to the collection of books dealing with World War II and the socialist period, and therefore it is not surprising that extremely valuable collections of documents from World War II, including volumes of the laws and regulations of the Independent Croatian state take up several rows on the shelves. A special part of the collection consists of periodicals that cover the period from the first printed sheets of the Austro-Hungarian period, materials that were issued during the first and second Yugoslavia, and periodicals from the present time. At the height of its activities (1965-1990), the Museum library had very successful exchanges with academic institutions in the former Yugoslavia. Most important periodicals from all over the country came to the library regularly.

What is the Museum most proud of?

The library is proud of its rarities, titles from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as rare editions from the interwar period. The oldest book in the collection is a pelling book for elementary schools in the Bosnian Vilayet, printed in Sarajevo in 1867. The book was given to students in the Bosnian Vilayet, as the preface states, on the order of His Excellency Sheriff-Osman Pasha, vali of the Bosnian Vilayet. The Library also holds extremely valuable first editions of magazines, some of them collected from the first to the last number. Such is the case with the literary magazine Nada, which was published in Sarajevo by government of Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1895 to 1903; the library has all nine volumes. It was the best magazine of its kind in Bosnia and Herzegovina, gathering work by numerous literary names such as Silvije Strahimir Kranjčević and Safvet beg Bašagić. The technical quality of the magazine could still serve as a model.

Contact: Elma Hodžić

 

Documentation Center

Establishment: 1981

   About the Collection

The Documentation Centre was established as a basic professional and scientific unit with the aim of developing and improving the activities of the museum for the recent history of Bosnia and Herzegovina in accordance with the development of modern museology. The items in the documentation center are classified in units. The Documentation Centre holds: Laws about museum activities, documents, regulations, rules, work programs, annual reports, permanent and temporary projects, ideological and historical concepts, thematic exhibition plans, architectural designs, reviews, ancillary facilities and catalogs, invitations, leaflets, posters, and brochures from our exhibitions and international museums and galleries.

What is the Museum most proud of?

The Documentation Centre holds projects of several memorial museums where the Museum of the Revolution of Bosnia and Herzegovina participated in the founding: The Museum of the First ZAVNOBIH in Mrkonjic Grad, the Museum II AVNOJ in Jajce, the Museum of the Battle of the Neretva in Jablanica, the Museum 25 May 1944 in Drvar, and others. Special holdings encompass curatorial professional articles, theses and doctoral dissertations, the professional publication of the Museum, Zbornik radova, as well as documentation on the organization of professional and scientific meetings. The Documentation Center holds the journals: Icom News, Curator, and Informatica Museologica. A particularly valuable donation of a large number of his works on museums was made by Prof. Dr. Antun Bauer.

Contact: Amar Karapuš

 

Special Art History Collection- Marian Wenzel

Established: 2010

About the Collection

The academic career of the US-born art historian and artist Marian Wenzel is mostly related to Great Britain, where, over forty years of constant work, she produced dozens of works whose titles reveal different academic interests and the wide repertoire of topics she researched. They varied from Gothic and Islamic art, decoration of houses in Sudan, ethnological studies on a nurse in the First World War, Greek miniatures from the 4th and the 5th centuries, glass and jewelry, to art in medieval Bosnia, to which she has contributed the most. Marian Wenzel’s legacy is seen in over two thousands books, manuscripts, studies, drawings, and artifacts that she donated to the History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Even a brief look into Marian Wenzel’s legacy shows her basic profession of art history. We can also clearly identify her vast education, her versatility, interests and hobbies. Her greatest contribution to the Bosnian scientific world was a catalogue of ornamental motifs on medieval tombstones [stećci], which came after years of research and fieldwork in graveyards all over Bosnia and Herzegovina. Today, this catalogue is an invaluable source of information for anyone studying medieval tombstones. Her drawings, photographs, and field diaries present valuable records not only on tombstones, but also on local people in the 1960s. In 1992, when the war in Bosnia started, Marian developed a new relationship with Bosnia. This is when she proved her love for the country whose past she had been exploring. In 1992, she started identifying Bosnia’s problems and the need to protect the country’s cultural and historical heritage during the war. She wrote a series of articles for eminent foreign magazines and founded a humanitarian organization for the protection of BH cultural heritage – the Bosnia&Herzegovina Heritage Rescue (BHHR).

In gratitude and respect for the character and work of Marian Wenzel, as well as the value of her material for the study of history, art history, and architecture, the History Museum has founded a Marian Wenzel Special Collection.

What is the Museum most proud of?

The Museum is proud of the trust Marian Wenzel showed in donating her valuable book, photo, and archive collection, giving us, at the same time, the great responsibility of caring for it. The History Museum of B&H only partially recognized this extraordinary person through the exhibition: Marian Wenzel – Up Close, which opened in 2010, but has also taken on the long – term task of promoting the personality and work of Marian Wenzel outside narrow academic circles.

Contact: Elma Hodžić

 

Besieged Sarajevo Collection

Established: 2003

About the Collection

The collection about the war from 1992 to 1995 consists of material collected for the purposes of the permanent exhibition “Besieged Sarajevo”, which opened in April 2003. Museum curators began to collect material from all relevant institutions (hospitals, ambulance services, humanitarian organizations, theaters, festivals, and others). The Museum invited citizens to donate objects they made for everyday use; the collected material has exceeded the capacity of the exhibition, and grown into a special collection. This is a collection that witnesses human ingenuity, creativity, improvisation, and functionality, and consists of exhibits, such as war lamps, stoves made of cans, clothing, posters, and photographs.

What is the Museum most proud of?

The museum has collected a considerable number of valuable artifacts from the period 1992 to 1995. The citizens of Sarajevo participated in the process of creating the collection. The exhibition and collection in the History Museum tell about the courage and creativity of the citizens in one of the darkest periods in the history of Sarajevo.

Contact: Amar Karapuš

 

THE BUILDING

The building of the History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina was designed in 1959 by Boris Magaš, Edo Šmidihen, and Radovan Horvat. It is a unique example of the international style in architecture; its dominant cube forms and clean lines stand out in the panorama of the city of Sarajevo.

Prof. Stjepan Roš wrote about the uniqueness and the architectural values of the Museum:

“The building of the Museum of the Revolution manifests the pure architecture of Mies van der Rohe. It is constructed of “boxes,” transparent and full. The glass-lined breathable skeleton stretches on a white stone pedestal, on which rests a full stone box. The neoplastic structure has the effect of lightness and balance and is reminiscent of El Lissitzky Proun. Spaces are extroverted, clearly oriented towards the inner garden. Nine columns — slender trees — contradict their own actual function because it looks like they break through and do not support. Free placement of walls gives the impression of moving billboards and an “open free plan.”

(Oris)

An interesting story about the idea for the appearance of the Museum building relates:

“Boris Magas has thought a lot how the Museum of the Revolution in Sarajevo should look. When the idea was born, the only paper that he had beside him was the toilet paper. That is how the basic outlines of the future Museum of the Revolution, today the Museum of History, were created. Later he developed the idea with Edo Šmidihen and Radovan Horvat. It was in 1964, he was less than 28 years old, he knew a lot about the theory of architecture, but had little concrete construction experience behind him. Shortly afterward he graduated.

‘The exhibition rooms are cubic volumes that rise above an almost completely glazed ground,’ as he described the abstract, modernist building that is quite different from his later works.”

(Jutarnji list, Hrvatska)

 

How to conduct research at the History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina

The museum material is classified in 8 museum collections and is available to scientific, cultural, and public researchers, students, and professors. The Museum is open for researchers every working day. Before starting research it is necessary to contact the head of the collection and complete a form for accessing museum holdings.