The National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovinan is placed in the center area of Sarajevo, in the neighborhood called Marijin Dvor (eng. Maria’s Yard). It stands between the pedestrian area of Vilsnonovo šetalište, History Museum, and Faculty of Philosophy.
Constructed in the spirit of the Italian Renaissance, with four pavilions joined by a terrace and botanical garden in the center, it looks like a castle from a fairy-tale. For sure a place that you must visit when you come to Sarajevo!
How was The National Museum established?
The first idea of establishing the museum came in the year 1850, but the period from an idea to its realization lasted almost four decades. But let me tell you a story of how it all began.
A long time ago, during the reign of the Ottoman empire, in the year 1850, there was a famous writer and publicist- Ivan Franjo Jukić, who came up with the idea of founding a museum. He presented it in the newspaper called “Bosnian friends” and invited all Bosnian people to repurchase and collect antique things such as stones, money, findings, etc.
Nobody knows whether the famous writer gathered the collection of antiquities or not. In that time, only a small number of people knew how to read and write. The economic situation was especially difficult, but the political situation wasn’t much better. So because of all that, Jukić’s idea was doomed to fail. But, this wasn’t the end. It was the seed of an idea that was waiting for the right conditions for growth and development.
Establishment of senior research institution
Twenty-eight years later Bosnia and Herzegovina fell under the Austro-Hungarian rule. At the beginning of their reign, in 1879, Aleksandar fon Helfert in his work the “Bosniches” proposed to establish senior research institution in Sarajevo, which would, alongside the function of the national museum, have the function of a scientific community and a high school. At that time, Bosnia and Herzegovina weren’t sufficiently explored, so it attracted many scientists, particularly from the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Many monuments were taken by private collectors and museums emissaries, especially from Vienna and Budapest. This contributed to the final realization of the idea of establishing the museum, which was more than 30 years in oblivion. Thanks to the initiative of Dr. Julije’s Makanec, a doctor born in Zagreb and councilor in Sarajevo, in May of the 1885 year the Museum society was founded. This was a big success and there was a large number of members, so three years later on February 1, 1888, the National Museum was founded.
Locations of the national museum
First, the Museum was situated in the two ground-floor rooms of the Provincial Government Palace, today’s Presidency Building. With time material funds increased and in the 1888 year the Museum was officially opened under the name of The National Museum in the building of the Officer Pension Fund on Church square, today’s Fra Grga Matić’s square. After that space became insufficient it was decided to build a new building for the museum – the current pavilion complex of the National Museum. The construction started in 1908 and it was completed in 1913. This masterpiece was designed by Karl Paržik, a famous Czech architect.
The soul of The National Museum
From the beginning of its work till today, during the period of 128 years, the National Museum had its ups and downs. It survived two wars – First and Second World War and the aggression on Bosnia and Herzegovina.
If the Museum was a human being I would say it’s a very brave one. But I do believe some buildings have a soul. The soul of the Museum was created by the connection of countless bits of energy from all those good people who helped in its establishment, development, and preservation. Museum artifacts, including a rich library collection, were conserved during the aggression on Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992. – 1996.) thanks to all the brave people who have not left the Museum even in the worst of circumstances.
For almost three whole years this oldest cultural and scientific institution of the west- modern style in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was closed due to lack of funds and the negligence of authorities. Once again thanks to the goodwill and efforts of young people gathered around the association “Action” and other citizens and employees, the museum was re-opened on 15 September 2015.
A Walk through the National Museum
Designed in the spirit of the Italian Renaissance this magnificent building leaves everyone breathless with its beauty.
Every time I step into a Museum I feel like I’m entering a magical place. The feelings. The silence. The energy. Amazing! Walking through the departments of archaeology, ethnology, and natural sciences, you are going through B&Hs past from stone age, animate and inanimate world and through traditional Bosnian culture. You can feel the legacy that previous generations have left behind. Just imagine that the exhibits could come to life at night like in the movie “Night at the Museum”. That would be awesome!
The accumulated tremendous history and positive vibe are inspiring and make you want to visit this place again and again. So come and feel the soul of the National Museum, you won’t regret it!