Sarajevo museums under siege

Posted filed underBosnia, Business, Museums.

Artist Damir Niksic staged a sit-in during January against the possible closure of the National Museum. Staff unpaid and buildings unheated as Bosnia’s national museums fight for their survival. What on earth is going on in Bosnia?

Zoe Larkins had a look for The Art Newspaper: “Bosnia and Herzegovina’s major cultural institutions, including the National Gallery and the National Museum, which are both in the capital Sarajevo, are in danger of closing indefinitely due to a lack of funding and government support. Staff, many of whom have been not been paid for months, have responded by organising events and exhibitions to bring attention to the crisis. The situation stems from the country’s dysfunctional administrative system and the lack of a national cultural ministry.

The National Museum, which was founded in 1888, is open to the public “for now”, said Andrijana Pravidur, a curator at the institution, in a statement issued on 2 March. Employees have not been paid in seven months and endure “almost impossible working conditions”.

The National Gallery closed to the public last September. It had been without a director and chief financial officer since May. The Historical Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, also in Sarajevo, was forced to shut its doors on 4 January after running out of money for maintenance and heating. Staff at both institutions have worked without pay since the respective closures.

The National and University Library, which has had no heating since early January, is next on the list of anticipated closures.

Access to important archives and collections will be lost if the museums and libraries close. The National Gallery was founded in 1946 and its holdings include Balkan art ranging from 15th- and 16th-century icons to pieces by contemporary Bosnian artists, and works by the Swiss painter Ferdinand Hodler. The National Museum’s collection includes the Sarajevo Haggadah, a 14th-century illuminated Hebrew manuscript from Spain. ”

Read on at The Art Newspaper.