ALL MUSEUMS IN CETINJE
National Museum of Montenegro
The National Museum of Montenegro is a complex institution comprising five museums: Historic, Ethnografic (with the Relief Map of Montenegro), the Museum of Arts, Njegos Museum (Biljarda-Njegos's residence at Cetinje and his birth house at Njegusi) and the Museum of King Nikola. This museum complex also includes the Library and Archives Department with over 100,000 books and over 100,000 documents, then the Conservation and Preparation Department and Documentation Department. Within the National Museum, there is in place an up-to-date documentation and computer processing system. It also serves as the central office for all Montenegrin museums. As of late, special attention is given to publishing activities and presentation of museum exhibits. All units of the National Museum of Montenegro (except for Njegos's birth house) are located in the historic town of Cetinje. Adjacent, there is also the Cetinje Monastery housing a rich treasury.
Historic Museum of Montenegro
Was opened in 1989, as the youngest in the family of Cetinje-based museums. It is housed in the historic building of Vladin dom (Government House), built in 1910. Its permanent display is a testament of the social, economic, political, military and cultural past of Montenegro, from the Middle Paleolithic to the most recent days. It includes the following collections: Prehistory and Ancient Times, Middle Ages, 16th, 17th and 18th century, Creation of the Montenegrin State (1796-1878), Modern Montenegrin State (1878-1918), Montenegro (1918-1941), World War II and the Revolution and Post-war Development of Montenegro. Part of the museums holdings have been temporarily given over to the Historic Museum by the Centre for Archeological Research, the Museum of the City of Podgorica, the Polimlje Museum in Berane and the Republic Institute for Monument Protection. These holdings dispose of some 1,500 items and over 1,000 (arms, flags, coats-of-arm, seals, archeological, numismatic and philatelist collections, collection of arts and photographs, etc), together with the items of once Museum of People’s Liberation Struggle (NOB), make a highly interesting and rich museum exposition. From 1960 the NOB Museum was housed at Biljarda. Since its ambition was not only to cover the period of People’s Liberation Struggle, but also the development of revolutionary labour movement and social events after the World War II, it was decided to join it to the Historic Museum. Within the new museum concept, the display is entitled Revolutionary Labour Movement and People’s Liberation Struggle in Montenegro.
Museum of Fine Arts of Montenegro
The Gallery of Fine Arts was established in Cetinje in 1950, aimed to study and monitor the development of fine arts, to collect, preserve and display artefacts of artistic value and, by proper selection, to provide a comprehensive overview of the most significant works of art. Initially, it operated within the State Library, and then independently from 1952-1963. Then it was integrated with other Cetinje-based museums into the General Museum of Montenegro (Museums of Cetinje, 1965), and eventually the National Museum of Montenegro (1992). The Gallery of Fine Arts became the Museum of Fine Arts of Montenegro in 1970s. Its holdings contain about 3,000 items, including some masterpieces of contemporary Yugoslav and Montenegrin fine arts. The diverse and extremely valuable holdings, displayed at Vladin dom, have been divided into ten collections: the Collection of Copies of Frescoes, the Collection of Icons, the Collection of Montenegrin Fine Art, the Collection of Yugoslav Fine Arts, the Collection of Works by Foreign Authors, the Collection of Milica Sarić Vukmanović and Svetozar Vukmanović Tempo, the Collection of Caricatures, the Collection of Legacies and the Collection within the “Yugoslav Artists to Njegoš” Gallery (fine, applied and naïve arts). The Collection of Montenegrin Fine Arts holds the greater number of items and gives a panorama of Montenegrin works of art. Apart from the baroque painter Tripo Kokolja, it features the works of renowned artists from late 19th century to the most recent times. Thanks to the patronage of the Montenegrin ruler, the first generation of young gifted people went for studies into the developed fine art centers (Naples, Rome, Athens, Paris and Moscow). Although mostly relying on already outdated forms of academic realism (Anastas Bocarić, Milo Vrbica, Ilija Šobajić, Marko Brežanin), certain artists like Pero Poček, the originator of Montenegrin Modernism, Đoko Popović and Špiro Bocarić followed the trends of contemporary European painting (plain air painting, impressionism). The artistic creation of the first half of the 20th century is represented by the works of artists educated in Belgrade, Roma, Vienna, Prague and Paris, which may rightfully be said to belong to the European Modernism. They accept the new literary expressions: expressionism, Cezannism, poetic realism, intimism and socio-realistic tendencies (Milo Milunović, Miloš Vušković, Mihailo Vukotić, Jovan Zonjić, Petar Lubarda, Risto Stijović, Savo Vujović). The second half of the 20th century meant a real eruption of the “kindled visual art creation” in which various artists, following own disposition and expressive capabilities, created a distinctive arts poetica deeply rooted in the Montenegrin people.
The most noteworthy team are Vojo Stanić and Dimitrije Popović renowned worldwide.
The works of Mihailo Vukotić, Milo Milutinović, Petar Lubarda, Branko Filipović and Miodrag Dado Đurić leading Montenegrin artists without whose contribution it would be impossible to follow the development trends of modern Montenegrin painting, are displayed separately.
Collection of icons held by the Museum of Fine Arts may be classified into three units: the icons of Russian provenience, made late 19th and early 20th century, Italo-Cretan icons from late 17th and from 18th century which arrived to Montenegro via merchant and cultural links with the West, and icons of local masters, made within the icon-painting school of the family Dimirijević-Rafailović from the Boka Kotorska Bay.
There are also some painting of foreign authors with the religious topics: the Execution of St. Genevieve from 17th century and the Holy Family by the Italian painter G.B. Pittoni.
At a separate room called the Blue Chapel, the icon of Our Lady of Philermos, one of the major Christian relics, originating from Jerusalem in early 12th century is displayed. The robe of the Virgin adorned with precious stones (sapphires and diamonds) as well as horse-shoe shaped halo decorated with diamonds and rubies, were made in early 18th century by the most famous goldsmiths and jewelers of St Petersburg and Moscow.
The Collection of Fresco Copies, a part of which is displayed at the Museum of History, represent a testimony of the authentic beauty of fresco painting in Montenegrin churches and monasteries, today, unfortunately, for the most part destroyed by the ravages of the time. Nevertheless, the collection provides a significant contribution to the understanding of the cultural development and socio-economic setting of Montenegro from early 11th century onwards.
Ethnographic Museum of Montenego
The Ethnographic Museum of Montenegro was established in 1951 at premises of Biljarda, together with museum of Njegoš and People’s Liberation Struggle. Here it remained until the disastrous earthquake in 1979. It holds extremely valuable items from all over of Montenegro illustrating the richness and tangible and intangible culture of the peoples living within its territory. It disposes of valuable collection featuring the economic activities, nutrition, housing, textile crafts, arms, music instruments, money, etc. The holdings contain some works of folk arts and crafts of high artistic value, bearing witness of the influences of various culture and styles.
The Ethnographic Museum did not have its own display area from 1979 to 2002, when it was finally placed within the building of the former Serbian Embassy. It is so designed to enable setting occasion thematic exhibitions, such as Chests in Montenegro From Fibre to Fabric, etc.
The exposition is made of items in daily use: folk costumes, mats, coverlets, bags, rugs, prayer rugs and some fine examples of lace and embroidery. Most of the displayed items represent supreme achievements of folk art.
In the textile crafts, the greatest diversity and richness is seen in the marking of rugs and national costumes. rug-making, particularly developed in the northern region of Montenegro, reflects oriental influences. Several types of folk costumes from various parts of Montenegro are exhibited in the Museum: the one from Boka of Malisors, of Šestani, etc. Some 150 displayed museum items, mostly from 19th and 20th century, confirm the centuries-long multi-national harmony in these areas.
As an integral part of the Ethnographic Museum, located within the yard of Biljarda, there is pavilion housing the relief map of Montenegro. It was made in 1916-17 during the Austro -Hungarian occupation, by some Austro-Hungarian officers wishing to have better understanding of and be able to exercise better control over the occupied areas on Montenegro during the World War One.
This topographic relief has the scale 1:10,000 and was made on concrete base with dioramic elements. Since it was tailored to suit the military needs, the Relief Map of Montenegro is a unique monument of the kind in Europe. It gives rise to its specific historic and documentary value and the character of a work of applied arts, and thus in 1961 it was listed as a monument of culture.
The Relief Map covers the entire present territory of Montenegro with the adjacent areas. Skillfully painted, it conjures up the magnificent diversity of the terrain. A significant contribution to shaping the relief, apart from Austrian experts of various backgrounds (lieutenant-colonels Mayer and Albert, major Sickel, engineer Miler, sergeant Sugar and the academic painter Grabwinkler) and Italian officers taken captives (painters and cartographers), was given by famous Montenegrin sculptor Marko Bežanin. The modern construction above the relief was built in 1979, with a guide way around the whole relief map. At the same time, the necessary conversation and restoration works was done.
Njegoš Museum (Biljarda)
Njegoš’s Museum is housed in Biljarda, the residence of Petar II Petrović Njegoš, built in 1938, in the immediate vicinity of the Cetinje Monastery. It was named after billiard, favorite game of Njegoš.
The design of Biljarda was done by Russian diplomat Jegor Ozereckovski. It is one story building with a stone wall, fenced yard and four towers on corners. There are well located within the spacious yard, and this Biljarda had all the features of a fortified castle. In time it has undergone several radical changes. It was only in 1951, on one hundredth anniversary of Njegoš’s death, that the whole edifice was reconstructed. Its authentic appearance was restored, except for this part where Austrians built the Relief Map during the world War One.
Apart from serving as residence of Petar II Njegoš, Prince Danilo and King Nikola, Biljarda also housed many state institutions. For a time, the Negoš’s printing house, a grammar school, a theological school, and briefly also the Girls’ Institute operated there. In early 20th century housed various ministers. However, Biljarda is largely associated with Njegoš.
There he made his magnificent works, governed the state and hosted many famous people in politics and cultural life of Europe of his time. Today Biljarda is the place where one may most powerfully experience the time and circumstances in which the greatest Montenegrin poet created. On the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of Njegoš's death, a memorial museum was opened in Biljarda displaying many items linked to him personally and to Montenegro of his time. Today the museums display is housed on the first floor of this edifice, while the ground floor is used for various cultural events.
The oldest edition of Njegoš’s works the original letters and related notes are displayed in Biljarda. The Njegoš’s works the original letters and related notes are displayed in Biljarda. The Njegoš's best known work Mountain Wreath with all the 19th century editions and subsequent translations into foreign languages occupies the central place. This room is further adorned with the work of arts inspired by Njegoš, whose creators were famous artist such as: Josip Tomnić, Johan Bes, Pero Poček, Ivan Meštrović, Risto Stijović….
Some authentic items illustrate radical reforms of the political and economic life conducted at the time of Njegoš’s rule.
There are some pieces of the original furniture, prince –bishop’s gown, a chair for rest, etc at display. The exposition is dominated by a rich library containing, in addition to his own, also the works of Petar I. The holdings also contain books in various fields of social sciences: philosophy, history, literature, written in different languages. The original manuscript of the Mountain Wreath (1847), Njegoš's golden fountain pen, the inkstand and several personal displayed in a separate china cabinet. There is also Njegoš's billiard table displayed in the billiard room, the one after which the whole building was named. The display contains by Josip Broz Tito to the Museum as a sign of respects for the personality and the work of the Montenegrin poet statesman.
Njegoš's birth house is located in the little hamlet Erakovići in Njeguši, on the very road leading from Kotor to Cetinje. It was built by Njegoš’s uncle Petar I, around 1970. It was adapted in 1973 and has the status of an ethnographic memorial building. Today it houses the exhibits depicting the way of the way of living back in Njegoš's times.
Numerous and diverse items are on display: works of art, some authentic furniture and cutlery, sumptuous, weapons, works of bishop-princes and statesmen from house of Petrović Njegoš. The central position is occupied by a stone hearth with cookware.
The whole area is adorned with valuable works of art, thematically linked with dynasty Njegoš.
An array of farming tools makes an integral part of the exposition.
Museum of King Nikola
The King Nikola’s Museum was established 1926 within the residence of the last Montenegrin ruler Nikola I Petrović Njegoš, continuing the tradition of collecting, preserving and cherishing the national cultural heritage.
The construction of the building commenced in 1867. Unfortunately, the names of the main architect and the first builders was intended as a residence for the window and daughters of Prince Danilo. Since Princes Darinka, decided to leave Montenegro, this edifice was given a new function. The members of the ruler’s family moved from Biljarda to this new palace.
Throughout its existence the ruler’s residence has undergone a number of significant reconstruction, always aspiring to preserve its original simplicity and unimposing interior and exterior. Last major adaptations were done before the celebration of the golden jubilee in 1970 when the building was given its today’s appearance. Many foreign publicists, travel writers and scientists, staying at the Montenegrin capital, left precious testimonies of Montenegrin court.
The newly established State Museum ( today the King Nikola’s Museum) united the holding of the Military and the Folk museum, the institutions established in 19th of century, as well as preserved inventory from the Montenegrin dynastic residences.
Thus, early on this operation, it gathered at the same venue the most significant museum items related to the political, military and cultural history of Montenegro. It provides a continuous insight into Montenegro state history, from Mid Ages to 1918, when it disappeared as an independent state from the political map of Europe.
The permanent display here is designed as the reconstruction of the interior of the ruler’s residence with fragmentary presentation of Montenegro past in those parts where the authentic items for the restoration of the court ambience where missing . In time, these collections were being enriched, primarily from family legacies. Today they are quite unique in many aspects, a fact of extraordinary importance for this institution.
In the multitude of museums of museum items, the following collections stand out: weapons ( trophy and ceremonies ones), decorations ( Montenegrin and foreign) flags (Montenegrin and Turkish), plaques, coat of arms, stamps, photographs, then the archaeological numismatic, artistic, ethnographic and applied arts collections. The court library makes an integral part of exposition. It is holdings include around 10,000 preserved books from once court library established in late 18th century and subsequently systematically enriched until 1916 when the court was deserted. The King Nikola’s Museum was established in 1926 within the residence of the last Montenegrin ruler Nikola I Petrović Njegoš, continuing tradition of collecting, preserving and cherishing the national cultural heritage. The construction of the building commenced in 1863, and was completed in 1867. Unfortunately, the names of the main architect and the first builders remained unknown. Originally, the building was intended as a residence for the widow and daughters of Prince Danilo. Since Princess Darinka, however, decided to leave Montenegro, this edifice was given a new function. The members of the ruler’s family moved from Biljarda to this new “palace”, as Montenegrins used to call it. Throughout its existence the ruler’s residence was undergone a number of significant reconstructions, always aspiring to preserve its original simplicity and unimposing interior and exterior. Last major adaptations were done before the celebration of the golden jubilee in 1910, when the building was given its today’s appearance. Many foreign publicist, travel writers and scientists, staying at the Montenegrin capital, left precious descriptions, often even artistic testimonies of the Montenegrin court. The newly established State Museum (today the King Nikola’s Museum) united the holdings of the Military and the Folk museum, the institutions established in 19th century, as well as all preserved inventory from the Montenegrin dynastic residences. Thus, early on in its operation, it gathered on the same venue the most significant museum items related to the political, military and cultural history of Montenegro. It provides a continuous insight into Montenegrin state history, from Mid Ages to 1918, when it disappeared as an independent state from the political map of Europe. The permanent display is designed as the reconstruction of the interior of the ruler’s residence with fragmentary presentation of the Montenegrin past in those parts where the authentic items for the restoration of the court ambience were missing. In time, these collections were being enriched, primarily from family legacies. In the multitude of museum items, the following collections stand out: weapons (trophy and ceremonious ones), decorations (Montenegrin and foreign), flags (Montenegrin and Turkish), plaques, coat-of-arms, stamps, photographs, then the archeological, numismatic, artistic, ethnographic and applied arts collections. The court library makes an integral part of the exposition. Its holdings include some 10,000 preserved books from once court library established in late 18th century and subsequently systematically enriched until 1916, when the court was deserted. In addition to fiction, there is a significant portion of books in various fields of social and exact sciences in all major world languages. Some extremely valuable pieces of unique old books and documents and bibliophilic edition in luxury buildings with inscriptions of authors and publishers are also on display. The copies of the Prince’s literary works (dramas), translated into English, Russian, Italian and Dutch are housed in a separate room. There is at display also a copy of “The Balkans Empress”, printed in Cetinje in 1886, as well as the “Album of the House of Petrović’s” (1910), whose covers were decorated by Rudolf Valdec, a sculptor from Zagreb. The display contains incunabula from the Crnojević printing house: “Octoechoes of the First Voice” , printed in Cetinje in 1493 (the first book ever printed among the South Slavs), one page of the Octoechoes of the Fifth Voice, nowhere preserved in full. It is the first illustrated book printed in Cyrillic letters. Montenegrin incunabula are characterized by their beauty and sumptuous decorations, a large number of initials, flags and illustrations. Crnojević’s printing house was the first state-owned printing house in the world. On the occasion of its 400th anniversary (1893), Prince Nikola received five honorary diplomas of large European universities: Sorbonne, Oxford, Petrograd, Harkov and Kazan.
This is the most important monument of this town at the foot of Mount Lovćen, where the destiny of Montenegrin people was decided upon and where it was shaped. It was built in 1701 by Bishop-Prince Danilo, the founder of Petrović Njegoš dynasty, after the destruction of Crnojević Monastery. The new monastery retained the characteristic architectural elements of the previous temple. Above the entrance to the church there is an inscription of the donor, Ivan Crnojević, transferred from the old temple, and at the apse a table with the coat-of-arms of Crnojević’s family and along the south outer wall a number of decorative consoles. The old stone sculptural elements were given a prominent place in the centre of the loggia on the second floor of the lodgings. The monastery complex was adapted and extended on several occasions, and was substantially restored in 1927 when the new metropolitan residence was built. In the centre of the complex there is a church dedicated to Virgin Mary’s Nativity. Prince Danilo and Duke Mirko, father to King Nikola, are buried there. Within the south choir there is reliquary of the St. Peter of Cetinje, because of which the Cetinje Monastery is often referred by his name. At the northern side of the church there is a cell of St. Peter’s. To the south of the church there are two story lodging quarters with arcade cornices. Adjacently, in the so-called Njegoš’s lodgings, once the metropolitan residence, the monastery treasury is housed. By richness and particular features of the preserved items, it is one of the most significant and richest in Montenegro. An outstanding collection of manuscripts and old printed books from 13th to 18th century is of particular importance. Some of them were even parchment manuscripts decorated by miniatures. Some of the Crnojević’s incunabula are at display, some post-incunabula from the printing house of Božidar and Vićenco Vuković (first half of the 16th century), as well of the numerous copies of illuminated and silver plated Russian editions. Since Cetinje Monastery was the residence of Montenegrin rulers, numerous valuable items related to the spiritual rites were also preserved: panhagios, robes, mitres, scepters, etc. The panhagios (necklaces with the image of Virgin Mary worn by bishop-princes) stand out for their luxurious making. Also, the religious items made of precious metals, such as: chalices, patens (discos) crosses, then the icons of the domestic, Russian, Greek and Italo-Cretan origin draw attention. The treasury of the Cetinje Monastery holds some collections of votive gifts, reliquaries, stamps, decorations, paintings. Following the 1979 earthquake, the monastery was restored and its treasury given a museum-like design. By its historic mission played over several centuries, the Cetinje Monastery was the centre of spirituality, free-thinking, humane and enlightenment ideas, thus rightfully occupying a prominent place in overall Montenegrin history.
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