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1945.

  • The Museum Commission for the Assessment of Damage made in World War II
  • The new name of the Museum and the first post-war permanent exhibition

The Museum Commission for the Assessment of Damage made in World War II was established early in 1945. The members of the Commission were the acting Director of the Museum, Olga Šafarik (between 1945 and April 1947), Curator Miodrag Kolarić and painter Gordana Jovanović. A revision of the Museum’s holdings showed that 450 objects listed in the inventory (271 paintings and 179 museum items belonging to other categories) were missing. The Education Department of the Executive People’s Committee for Belgrade was asked for permission to erase the missing items from the inventory. Olga Šafarik drew attention to the fact that “museum objects were handed over by the Director of the Library without a receipt and that it was also without a receipt that they were received back by the administrators in charge after the liberation. The Museum staff […] made a summary of the items that had disappeared in 1941 before they took over the inventory. A new inventory of objects that were still in the Museum was compiled, whereas the old ones were preserved to serve as evidence […] On the basis of old inventories it has been established that a number of paintings and old city plans had been borrowed to various institutions both before and during the occupation. A number of borrowing receipts had been found in the Library archives […] We were subsequently informed that they disappeared; however, the Museum has the copies of the documents and relevant entries can be found in the register.” According to experts, this was the greatest loss for Yugoslav art, along with the loss of a part of Joca Vujić’s collection at the Faculty of Engineering. Besides this loss, fifty paintings suffered severe damage, whereas the tools and equipment of the carpentry workshop and photo laboratory were destroyed. In the years to come, the Museum’s personnel kept on putting great efforts to make a reliable estimation of the damage. Some of the works of art belonging to the Museum, paintings in particular, were found in houses inhabited by German officers. The work was completed in 1948, when the Museum was granted permission to erase the missing objects from the inventory.

In mid-1945, the City Museum of Belgrade was renamed to the Belgrade City Museum. It has kept the name until present and it is still housed in the same premises. Parallelly with the estimation of the war damage, the museum staff was setting up the permanent exhibition, which was meant to give a chronological overview of the collections. It was inaugurated on August 4, 1945. In her report to the Education Department of the Executive People’s Committee for Belgrade Olga Šafarik wrote that the number of visitors was not satisfactory, drawing attention to possible reasons for that: inadequately informed public, unattractive position of the Museum and inadequate premises. Therefore, it was necessary to provide new premises that would allow a more comprehensive exhibition enriched with materials resting in storerooms due to the lack of room. Once again, after war devastations, existential, social and other communal issues gained priority over demands of cultural institutions. In such a situation, the Museum staff undertook an internal reorganization.

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