The National Museum

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The National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina was founded in 1888 and is the oldest of the modern cultural and scientific institutions of Western type in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A series of historical events influenced its establishment. A number of individuals and groups had for a long time prior to this emphasized the need for such an institution.

The initial idea to establish a museum dates back to 1850. However, nearly four decades were to elapse before its establishment, during which two empires ruled Bosnia and Herzegovina – Ottoman rule gave way in 1878 to Austro-Hungarian administration.

The political, strategic and economic goals set by the Austro-Hungarian administration called for European literacy levels and more widespread education. As one of the still unexplored countries of the Balkans, Bosnia and Herzegovina was a source of curiosity for many scientists, especially those from Austria-Hungary. At the same time, it also attracted the attention of quasi-scientists, which in the very first years of occupation resulted in their removing cultural monuments from the region. This all contributed to the decision to take more concrete measures designed to bring about the long-awaited establishment of a museum. To this end, the Museum Society was formed, followed on 1 February 1888 by the establishment by the Provincial Government of the museum, then a Provincial Museum, now properly known as the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mr. Kosta Hörmann, an adviser to the Government, was appointed as director of the Museum.

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The Museum soon outgrew its original, inconvenient premises, and work began on a new building in 1908. It was decided that the new museum facilities would consist of a complex of buildings housing all the existing collections in separate sections. The construction was completed in 1913 and the Museum was open to the public on 4 October that year. The complex, which remained for many years the only purpose-built museum in the former Yugoslavia, still houses the National Museum to this day.

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Development of the Museum

Since the very beginning of its work, the National Museum has developed as a complex cultural and scientific institution fostering a number of scientific and scholarly disciplines, i. e. 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. Over the years these disciplines have been rationalized into the present three departments: Archaeology, Ethnology and Natural History. Since the outset, considerable attention has been paid to the educational and cultural function of the Museum. Museological activities have also created a basis for the acquisition of all the existing collections through research work in the field, purchase, exchange or gifts to the Museum.

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During the Austro-Hungarian period, scientific research activity strongly influenced by the development and orientation of 19th European century science and culture, and therefore concentrated on archaeology and natural history in particular.

Its operations were suspended during the 1914-1918 Great War, which was followed by the first union of the South Slavs, known initially as the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and later as Yugoslavia (1918-1945) This period was marked by the development of a hegemonic centralized administration dictated by the Court and the Greater Serbian bourgeoisie, and by a marked decrease in all areas of the National Museum's activities. Bosnia and Herzegovina abruptly found itself on the margins of the socio-economic, political and cultural mainstream. However, the troubles of the National Museum did not end there. World War II (which lasted from 1941 to 1945 in this part of the world) again deprived the National Museum of opportunities to operate and develop, so much so that this period marks the Museum's lowest levels of activity.

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The initial period of stabilization of the National Museum after the end of World War II made but slow progress until the early 1960s. Within the context of the general advances made in socio-economic relations, culture was declared to be of special importance for society. This was a period when the National Museum achieved outstanding results in all its activities, surpassing in many ways what was done during the Austro-Hungarian period. This applied especially to scientific research and publishing activities and exhibitions.

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The aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina and the 1992-1995 war that followed caused not only a break in the development of the Museum, but direct devastation and damage to the four buildings of the Museum complex and to the Botanical Garden. The Museum's artifacts, including its wealth of library holdings, were saved thanks above all to people who did not abandon the Museum even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Just as in previous times the Museum shared the fate of Bosnia and Herzegovina, now that the war is over its life and work again reflect the life of Dayton Bosnia and Herzegovina. Thanks to numerous donations and the dedication of its staff, the Museum is gradually recovering from the devastation of the war. Assistance in the rehabilitation of this cultural institution has been provided by the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNESCO, the Federal Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport, the Ministry of Science, Culture and Sport of Sarajevo Canton, the Institute for Planning and Construction of the City of Sarajevo, the International Peace Center in Sarajevo, Swiss museums, Swiss ICOM and the Swiss National Museum in Zurich, BHHR, Norks Folkesmuseum from Oslo, the Swedish Cultural Heritage without Borders Foundation, the Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Ethnography, the Museum of Islamic Art and other Swedish museums, as well as many others.

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Structure of Museum

Organizational units:

- Archaeology Department
- Ethnology Department
- Natural History Department
- Library

The institutions that have evolved from the original activities of the National Museum are:

- The Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and Natural Rarities of Bosnia and Herzegovina
- The Institute of Oriental Studies
- The Institute of Balkan Studies
- The Art Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina
- The Institute of Folklore Studies
- The Institute of Biology
- The Institute of Phytopathology
- Some of the original activities of the National Museum have thus ceased to be a part of the Museum's work and have been delegated to newly established institutions.

Activities of the National Museum:

- Museum studies
- Scientific research activities
- Educational activities
- Publishing

Organizational structure:

- Director, deputy director, secretary, departmental heads
- Governing Board
- Scientific-Scholarly Council
- Expert Group

Personnel structure:

scientific work adviser, senior scientific work adviser, scientific work associate, museum adviser, senior curator, curator, library adviser, senior librarian, librarian, conservation adviser, senior conservator, conservator, senior preparator, preparator, senior draftsman, photographer, senior assistant librarian, assistant librarian, head gardener, gardener, assistant gardener.

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