ARCHIVALIA OF THE MONTH (JULY 2013)
Wilhelm Rezori: Draft of the Future Building of the Carniolan Provincial Museum (Frontage, Ground Floor, First Floor)
Ink; 22.3 x 43.8 cm (folder 36.5 x 48.9 cm); 3 items.
Reference code: SI AS 1068, Zbirka načrtov, 11/2,3,4.
The Archives of the Republic of Slovenia keeps the draft of the plan for the Carniolan Provincial Museum as part of the collection SI AS 1068 Zbrika načrtov (Collection of plans). The collection itself is divided into 25 series of related plans. Included in the series 11 titled Museums and galleries, theatres, libraries are plans of important cultural buildings, such as the National and University Library, the Contemporary Art Gallery, the Opera etc. The National Museum is presented on as many as 33 items which help us follow different stages of its construction. Rezori’s idea developed simultaneously with the need for the new museum building.
Since the Ljubljana Lyceum, which also housed the Carniolan Provincial Museum, gradually ran out of space needed for museum exhibits, the politician and museum curator Karl Dežman took up a project of constructing a new museum and in January 1881 commissioned Wilhelm Rezori, an architect from Vienna, to make a draft plan for a new building and estimate its construction costs. Using his political influence and equipped with his programme and Rezori’s draft, Dežman was successful in convincing the Carniolan savings bank and the provincial assembly to invest in the new building. The foundation stone was laid on July 14, 1883 by the emperor Franz Joseph. The construction began and was carried out under the supervision of Wilhelm Treo, who in his plans kept most of Rezori’s ideas, and was finished by the end of 1888 when interior was arranged by the engineer Ivan Hrasky. The museum was called Rudolfinum, after the Austrian crown prince Rudolf, from 1882 up to 1920, when it was renamed the National Museum. Karl Dežman, the initiator of the construction, became the first museum curator, but sadly was not able to enjoy his new role for long as he passed away the following year.
The newly constructed building of the Carniolan Provincial Museum did not offer shelter only to museum collections but also to archival documents which until that time had been gathered by various institutions, societies and individuals. As is evident from the ground floor plan (Erdgeschoss), Rezori placed archival premises on the ground floor, left of the entrance. However, the space allocated by the museum for archival holdings was insufficient; already in the 1910s there are complaints made by the archivists about the lack of space and inability to acquire new records.
After the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, Carniola and its capital Ljubljana became part of Yugoslavia. The idea of a central public archives active for the entire Slovenian territory and seated in Ljubljana, became popular once again. Although the idea was introduced by Dr. Josip Mal already in 1910, it remained only a plan yet again. Archival holdings remained in the museum and the archives continued to operate as one of the museum’s organisation units. Even the founding of the State Archives during the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in 1926 did not manage to improve the situation in terms of the preservation, arrangement and description of archival documents. Since archival repositories were filled to capacity no new documents could be transferred to archival department almost until the end of 1930s. In 1939, the National Museum employed a new archivist, Stanko Jug, who in fear of aerial attack moved most of the documents to the museum’s basement where they remained until the end of the war. The Central State Archives was founded by the National Government of Slovenia on October 31, 1945. After some extensive search for suitable premises, the newly named State Archives of Slovenia finally found its place at Gruber’s Palace in 1953.
The building of the National Museum on Prešeren Street was the first Slovenian building devoted solely to cultural purposes and it remains true to its calling even today. Currently, it is one of the five buildings occupied by the National Museum of Slovenia, where visitors can see five permanent exhibitions with exhibits dating back to Roman, Egyptian and other eras, as well as artistic and historical collections and the collection on the Slovenian language.
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- Web page of the National Museum of Slovenia http://www.nms.si/index.php