History of the museum

videlina_paz_sStefan Zahariev is the first to recognize the importance of research and preservation of local Pazardzhik history. In his capacity of representative of the church community in Pazardzhik and of the Plovdiv Mitropolite Bishop for the region he travelled a lot thus being able to visit 113 settlements and to gather valuable historical and ethnographic data. The result of his research was published in the book Geographical – Historical – Statistical description of the Tatar-Pazardzhik Region in 1870 (Vienna). In Chitalishte Videlina community centre he assembled an extensive collection of coins, archaeological artefacts, church manuscripts and documents.
On 28 January 1911 the 16th Ordinary National Assembly adopted the Historical Objects Law. On 24 February the community centre management decided to open a museum under its governance and appointed as curator Dr. Il. Matakiev MD. In series of sessions in December the community centre chart is amended and under art.3 the museum is founded.
On 13 December 1911 the museum in Pazardzhik starts to function officially. In the period during the wars (1912-1918) the activities at the community centre were put on hold and the curator Dr. Matakiev MD participated in all three wars as army doctor.
The first years after the war mark the quick progress of the museum activities in Pazardzhik. In 1923 the community centre activist Ivan Voyvodov donated to Videlina community centre his personal library consisting of 741 books and his numismatic collection of 316 coins.
A committee has been set up that to prepare the statute of the Archaeological Organization on 23 March 1924. In the document is stipulated that the name of the organization is to be Bessapara and of the museum Ivan Voyvodov. As chairperson of the organization is elected Ivan Voyvodov and as curator is appointed Todor Mumdzhiev.
On 16 June 1924 on community centre celebration in one of the rooms of the building is opened the first exhibition of Ivan Voyvodov museum. Thousands of documents and artefacts most of them one of a kind were donated to the museum at the time thus forming the foundation of the exhibition of the Common People Museum later. The archaeological, ethnographic, historical and geographical research papers were often provided by lead specialists in these areas. Eminent Bulgarian scientists visited the museum as part of their work such as Professor G. Katsarov, Professor B. Filov and Professor Doctor Iv. Velkov, who published in national and foreign journals information about the artefacts in the museum funds.
The more interesting among the newly acquired museum artefacts have been described in articles in the local press under the headings Archaeological News and Museum Artefacts. Only year after his appointment as museum manager Konstantin Hristovich manages to enrich its collection with around 1400 artefacts among which over 1100 coins and banknotes. Particular interest attracted the marble votive table from the still not researched at the time Asklipiy Zemedrenski sanctuary near the village of Batkun, the elegant marble head if a goddess fount at Blatnitsa, the marble votive tables of the Thracian horseman from Kalugerovo and Malo Konare, bronze Greek coin, Olympic medal from the games held at Ancient Plovdiv found at Hadzhievo, long iron Thracian sword from Hisarya near Tsar Asen, goldsmith chest with numerous drawers donated by Elena Lulcheva and countless books.
In June 1936 Konstantin Hristovich together with Dimitar Tsonchev – manager of the Plovdiv Museum and Library toured the Rhodopes and marked several Thracian sanctuaries and other monuments related with their religion. They also conducted field research the Mediaeval Batkunion Fortress and suggested it as appropriate site for future excavations work to the National Museum of Archaeology and the Ministry of National Enlightenment. The also gathered data about the St. Peter and Paul Monastery, information about the life and work of Stanislav Dospevski who painted the building and researched the activities of Vasil Levski and his hiding place there (where he met the local Revolutionary Committee activists).
In 1936 after extensive repair work the museum is moved in a large hall on the second floor of Videlina community centre.
In 1937 thanks to the generous donations from citizens, town and regional governments the curator adds to the museum funds valuable artefacts. The museum collections are enriched with archaeological findings, numismatic collections, jewellery, sahan and tepsia dishes, tas basin bowls, dishes and vessels, journals of the trade guilds, medals, photographs, portraits and pictures. Among the rich variety of items stands out unique coin treasure of Velichkovo. It consists of 10 silver coins of the Derrones Thracian tribe that are dated to 5th century BC. Thanks to the hard work of Professor Todor Gerasimov this tribe became known to the scientific community as they were not mentioned in any other historical sources.
In 1938 Ivan Voyvodov museum had the following departments: Archaeological, Numismatic, Bulgarian Revival and Art. It has also spent the total sum of 10 000 BGN provided as a grant by the Archaeological Institute in Sofia, Populyarna Banka bank and Pazardzhik Municipality. The provided facilities became insufficient for the continuously growing museum fund.
The first systematic archaeological excavation in Pazardzhik region are organized by Vasil Mikov from the Archaeological Institute and Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Science and Dimitar Tsonchev – director of the People’s Library and Museum – Plovdiv.
On 7 September 1939 Mikov started excavation activities at Yunatsite Tell. At first there were 18 people at his team and they worked over a period of 23 days. He concluded that the tell has been inhibited over 5 different periods of human history and that makes it the most worthy object of research in comparison to other tells in Bulgaria. At the same time under a decree of the minister of National Enlightenment and with financing from the Plovdiv Region Fund D.Tsonchev carried out one-week excavation of the Asklipiy Zemedrenski sanctuary near the village of Batkun dated 2nd century – 4th century AD.
K. Hristovich continued his campaign for “urgent provision of special “premises suitable for storage and display of the valuable museum exhibits” both in public talks and in the local newspapers. His efforts were targeted at the general public, the community centre management, the municipality, the national archaeological museums in Sofia and Plovdiv. Hristovich realized that the funding needed for reconstruction of the donated to the museum Nenova Kashta house could not be covered by Videlina community centre and that is why he offered to the above mentioned institutions to “transfer the ownership of museum to the Town Council thus establishing a first-class town museum”.
He also suggests the appointment of paid museum officer from the beginning of 1942. Hristovich considered as appropriate candidate Vlado Fuchalov who worked before that as librarian in the community centre because “he is highly educated and familiar with museum works”. The job description has been as follows “under my supervision he will categorize and put in order the exhibits and greet the museum visitors”.
In the aftermath of 9 September coup d’état the Ivan Voyvodov Archaeological Museum at Videlina community centre had five departments: General Archaeology, Geography, Natural History and Agriculture, Ethnographical, Art and Town Archives. According to the curator at the time the museum was housed in small community centre hall of around 50 sq. meters that looked like “junk collectors place”. The annual budget allocated to the museum at the time amounted to 8 000 BGN – 10 000 BGN and was provided in the form of grants by the community centre and the Town hall. The curator and assistant curator worked for free.
On 1 October 1946 the new museum officially opened at the house of Yordan Nenov that has been donated by his daughter. The exhibitions included Antiquity, Middle Ages, Bulgarian National Revival, April Uprising, Numismatics, Town Archive and Trades. Special area has been appropriated for presentation of Konstantin Velichkov and Old Pazardzhik. Some pictures of Old Pazardzhik were displayed at the museum while the others remained in one of the halls in the community centre allocated to Picture Gallery Stanislav Dospevski.
The fact that the museum has been part of community centre hindered its progress in comparison to other institutions. It managed to catch up with the developments only after the later introduced nationalization of the large museum collections among which was the museum at Videlina community centre – Pazardzhik.
In 1980 the museum together with art gallery Stanislav Dospevski are moved to newly constructed building in the centre of Pazardzhik. Special ceremony has been organised for the opening under the auspices of Lyudmila Zhivkova.
Pazardzhik History Museum that started as amateur endeavour of group of patriotic Bulgarians established itself as community centre museum and then grew into state cultural institute of district and regional importance now occupies important place within the national museum system.
The permanent museum exhibition is housed in several halls each dedicated to a specific time and topic. An extended period of time is covered from Prehistory to modern Bulgarian history. The Ethnographic Exhibition is accommodated in an authentic Vazrazhdane period house and the birth home of Konstantin Velichkov harbours the artefacts related with his life and work.
Archaeology Hall offers to the visitors artefacts related with the material and spiritual culture of Pazardzhik and its surrounding region: reconstructed Neolithic house interior, Neolithic and Chalcolithic anthropomorphic and zoomorphic clay vessels, wide variety of ritual statues and objects, antique and medieval coins, weapons, adornments and one of the richest collections of votive tables of the Thracian horseman.
Vazrazhdane Hall gives glimpse of Pazardzhik region in the years of Bulgarian National Revival up to the Liberation of Bulgaria in 1878. The exhibition also presents the participation of the locals in the national liberation fights and the April Uprising (1876). The displayed items are original and are part of the rich museum funds, some of them include weapons, coins, articles belonging to the trade guilds, old printed books. More than 200 authentic pieces illustrate the central themes – the economic development of Pazardzhik as trade centre; the struggles of the local population for independent Bulgarian church, education and national liberation.
Modern History Hall actually comprises of three interconnected halls. The first hall showcases eminent Pazardzhik citizens that participated in local government after the Liberation. Special place in the exhibition is allocated to famous historical and architectural monuments in the town – East Orthodox Cathedral Church Uspenie na Sveta Bogoroditsa (Saint Assumption of the Holy Virgin) and the Old Post Office building. There are also presented the architectural plans of Pazardzhik prepared at the beginning of 20th century by renowned local architects. In the second hall are demonstrated some of the trades typical of thee period – tailoring, rope making, hat making, basket weaving, metalworking etc. Also special attention is paid to the development of agriculture in the last century illustrated with numerous photos, documents and original materials. The third hall is dedicated to educational activities. The exhibition shows the cultural, educational, sports and charity organizations in Pazardzhik set-up by the influential public figures at the time. People that played important role in the cultural life such as writers, poets, artists, journalist, musicians etc. are also commemorated in this hall.
The museum Lapidarium accommodates archeological finds that are not displayed in the museum halls. The items are arranged in chronological order and constitute a diverse collection of statues, road columns, sacrificial alters and stone idol statues. There are also displayed different architectural elements such as capital columns, column bases, pilasters and architraves.
The Ethnographic Exhibition is housed in what used to be the largest residential building from the period of Bulgarian National Revival Vazrazhdane. It has been built in 1850 in the so called Plovdiv Baroque style and its owner Nikola Hristovich was rich merchant. The house is declared architectural and artistic monument of culture. The exhibition highlights the richness and diversity of traditional Bulgarian culture typical of the following ethnographic regions: Upper Thracian Plain, Sredna Gora and Rhodope. The museum fund at the Ethnography Department keeps valuable evidence related with everyday life, means of livelihood and the spiritual life of the region. The exhibits form 15 separate collections: objects of town lifestyle, clothes, instruments and works of craftsmen, tools used for land cultivation and logging, architectural details, folk music instruments and items related with folk culture.
The birth home of Konstantin Velichkov (1855 – 1907) has been turned into exhibition area of Pazardzhik History kashta-muzeiMuseum. The house is declared architectural, artistic and historical monument of culture of national importance. The original house interior has been reconstructed as part of the exhibition. Rich collection of pictures and documents give information about the family environment and personality of Velichkov, his contribution to Bulgarian history and culture being eminent public figure, active participant in the national liberation fights, politician and statesman, writer, translator and artist. The museum is one of the centres of cultural events and celebrations. The traditional Velichkov Days events occupy special place in the cultural calendar of Pazardzhik.
12-300x239Another site under the museum management is Yunatsite Tell situated near the village of the same time. The results gathered after 40 years of archaeological excavations at Yunatsite Tell are of great importance to Prehistory scientists. New information has been revealed about settlement structure, house building, economic and spiritual life and the burial rituals of the most ancient dwellers of the tell that inhabited it over a period of several thousand years during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Ages.
Regional History Museum-town of Pazardzhik is among the most respected museum in Bulgaria. Its funds house over 75 000 cultural artefacts and some of them have been displayed in USA, Japan, Canada, Germany, France, Norway, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Switzerland and other countries.
The museum is beneficiary of numerous national projects and partner of different institutions under EU projects. Pazardzhik History Museum regularly holds international and national conferences, round table discussions and symposiums.
The museum building provides accessible environment to people with disabilities.
At the incorporation meeting of the Bulgarian Museum Association held on 30 November 2012 in the city of Ruse, the Regional History Museum-town of Pazardzhik represented by its director Boris Hadzhiyski has been elected as chairperson of the steering committee of the association. Three years later on 26 November 2015 Pazardzhik History Museum representative is re-elected as chairperson for a second consecutive mandate. As of 24 May 2016 members of the association are 97 national, regional, municipal and private museums.