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National Museum of History celebrates its 50th anniversary

The exhibition "50 by 50" offers an emotional and fascinating journey through time

The National Museum of History celebrates its 50th anniversary. On this occasion, a special exhibition entitled "50 by 50" was unveiled in the presence of Bulgaria’s Vice President Iliana Iotova and many official guests. The exhibition draws attention to significant events related the museum‘s history  from its establishment until now.

The National Museum of History is Bulgaria’s largest museum. It was established by order of the Council of Ministers on May 5, 1973.

The very first exhibition of the museum named "Prehistoric Art in the Bulgarian Lands" opened on May 5, 1975. In the last few years, the National History Museum has accumulated over 600 cultural monuments. Enrichment of its funds takes place in the traditional ways for any large museum - archaeological excavations, ethnographic expeditions, purchased items, donations, confiscations for the benefit of the state, carried out by the court, the police and customs. The collections are so vast, diverse and breathtaking, a maze of different artistic and cultural worlds, museum workers say. In 50 poster panels, the exhibition "50 of 50" collects and presents some of the most impressive events, exhibitions and activities of the National History Museum in the period from its foundation to the current year 2023. The jubilee presentation also includes over 150 exhibits in showcases, part from the museum's funds, purchased objects and donations, as well as representative gifts for the National History Museum, donated by Bulgarian and foreign guests and friends of the museum.

Professor Dr. Bonni Petrunova, Director of the National Museum of History, has more about the mission of this institution:

"What the National Museum of History has turned into surprises even its founders. It has already become a brand and a very famous institution, not only because it hosts emblematic events, but mostly because the National History Museum now has its regular audience of friends and supporters. The people who entered the circle of friends in 2017 were ordinary citizens who, however, had come to the aid of the museum in a critical moment without being asked for help. For instance, one of our donors repaired the roof of the medieval Boyana Church with his own money. Such are our friends. They also bring their children here. This is how the culture of respect for Bulgaria’s heritage is formed, which takes years."

When the National History Museum was established in 1973, there were people who disagreed with the opening of such a museum that would “display the most representative artifacts at the expense of other Bulgarian museums”. Today the National Museum of History is one of the most visited museums in Sofia, because there, within a single visit, any tourist or official foreign guest can get an overview of Bulgaria’s rich history and culture.

We can talk a lot about the museum’s latest collections. The treasure discovered in the Kaliakra fortress consisting of nearly 1,000 artefacts and the silver trays gifted to Alexander Battenberg (the first prince/knyaz of the Principality of Bulgaria) by residents of Bulgarian towns are among them. Prince Alexander received these gifts, because he was recognized as the person who could restore the Bulgarian state. "These silver trays are an important sign of our recent history. That is why they were bought at an auction in Vienna in 2019", Associate Professor Bonni Petrunova recalled. 


The exhibition "50 by 50" which offers an emotional and fascinating journey through time will be open to the visitors of the National Museum of History in the next 6 months.

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

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