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Museum of Literature & Performing Arts, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Place of remembrance for a polyphonic literature

The museum building in a house from the middle of the 19th century
The Museum of Literature and Theatre Arts in Sarajevo | © Zlatan Delic, Museum of Literature, Bosnia-Herzegovina

With its small, pretty courtyard and white-painted arcades, the Museum of Literature and Performing Arts is situated in a paradise-like location in the city of Sarajevo. The newly renovated archive houses a rich collection of writings from Bosnia's polyphonic literary tradition.

by Sejla Sehabovic

There is an old, 19th century house (monument of culture of the 1th category), at the center of Sarajevo. There is a small, neat garden in front of it. Archive photography from 1920s shows a woman, making a sculpture in the garden. The woman in question is Iva Despic, first Bosnian female sculptor with an academic degree. She was the last inhabitant of the house and the facade shows even today her original works.
From 1961 the house if a home for Museum of Literature and Performing Arts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was the year first (and only!) Yugoslav writer was awarded with Nobel prize for literature. Cultural workers of that Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina used the fact that Ivo Andric was Bosnian himself, and also the fact that he has spent most of his career obsessively writing about Bosnia to lobby for the only museum of national literature in Yugoslavia to be established in Sarajevo.
They envisioned inclusive and multiethnic Bosnian History to be shown in the world of a written word. 1970-s saw this concept widened with the special collections dedicated to the history of theatre in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

  • A Group of Students in a Guided Tour © Imrana Kapetanovic, Museum für Literatur, Sarajevo
    Students are Visiting the Permanent Exhibition of the Museum of Literature in Sarajevo
  • View into the Gallery with Exhibition © Halid Kuburovic, Museum of Literature; Bos-Herz
    Exhibition in the Gallery in the Museum of Literature, Sarajevo
  • Woman with Boxes © Mihneta Avdic, Museum of Literature; Bos-Herz
    View at the Collections in the Museum of Literature, Sarajevo
  • Group of Women is Arranging Papers © Mihneta Advic, Museum of Literature; Bos-Herz
    The manuscript collections are reviewed
  • Kartons Ivo aNdric, Nobelpreisträger © Museum of Literature; Bos-Herz
    Packed sentences: the manuscripts of the Nobel Prize Winner Ivo Andric are waiting for the next exhibition in the Museum of Literature in Sarajevo.
The Museum today takes care of more than 20.000 original objects (manuscripts, documents, photo/archive, 3d objects, even the whole working rooms of selected writters).
Museum of Literature and Performing Arts of Bosnia and Herzegovina features Permanent Exhibition, Gallery and Garden - all used for public programs. The Museum also has an extensive Archive - renovated this year.

From 1995, due to political turmoil in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnian ethno-national elites deny financial and legal support for this small but very important institution. This is one of the reasons that safekeeping of collections is a precarious work of utmost importance.

Museum collections must and will be digitalized. They are European heritage and belong to the world. Our archive is now (finally!) ready for that process.   

© Mihneta Avdic and Aner Dizdarevic