The public institution Museum of the Second Session of the Anti-Fascist Council of People’s Liberation of Yugoslavia (AVNOJ) in Jajce has additionally restored the pre-war collection of drawings by Božidar Jakac and now it has more than 300 works. This was confirmed by Elvedin Imamović, director of the Museum, in an interview for Visit BiH Magazine.
– Before the last war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the collection consisted of 436 works, but a certain number of drawings disappeared during the war. Several works were returned by a gentleman who bought them at the market in Vienna, and a few from Belgrade. There were also anonymous returns, so now we have more than 300 drawings – says Imamović.
Božidar Jakac donated his author’s oeuvre, more than 500 works created during his participation in the National Liberation Struggle, to the Museum in 1973. These are works that Jakac painted during his visit to the AVNOJ session in 1943. Božidar Jakac was one of the councilors at the Second Session of AVNOJ, and the drawings include his sketches, numerous drawings of fighters, but also portraits of Josip Broz Tito, and several caricatures of partisans.
According to Imamović, in addition to this collection of drawings, visitors can also see a permanent exhibition of photographs and documents showing the beginning of the Second World War in these areas, and visit the memorial hall where the II session of AVNOJ was held.
– The original portraits of the then allies, namely Josip Broz Tito, Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, Karl Marx, Josif Visarionovic Stalin, which were done by Đorđe Andrejević Kun during the preparations for the II session of the AVNOJ, have been preserved, and together with the museum building, they are a national monument of BiH – he points out.
The museum also has the original armchair in which Tito sat, two side armchairs and part of the original chairs in which the delegates sat.
– There are also so-called niches in which the restoration of statehood of all republics in the former Yugoslavia is shown. We also have an educational center that houses a specialized library with about 3,000 titles, books, magazines and catalogs covering the period before and after the II session of the AVNOJ. Before the war, that number was about 10,000, but we managed to return only 3,000 titles that were kept in the Franciscan Museum in Jajce – emphasizes Imamović.
According to him, they are extremely satisfied with the visits to the museum since April this year, when the tourist season began.
– We have visitors from all countries of the former state, especially Slovenia. In May, we had student excursions from all over Bosnia and Herzegovina, and several thousand schoolchildren visited us on that occasion. It’s the beginning of the annual holidays, so we expect other group visits. People come from all over Europe and the world. Just before our conversation, we had a visit from Israel – he says.
Days of AVNOJ
When asked how familiar the visitors from abroad are with the events in Jajce in 1943, Imamović says that they mostly know the history.
-Nevertheless, for every group visit, we organize professional guides, that is, a historical lecture where our guides present to tourists everything that happened, but also the city of Jajce in its entirety – he points out.
In the last week of November, under the auspices of the Municipality of Jajce, the museum organizes the event “Days of AVNOJ”, where they remember that long-ago in 1943, 142 councilors from all the republics of the former Yugoslavia stayed in Jajce. It will be the same this year, and Imamović says that preparations are underway.
– Given that this year marks the 80th anniversary of this historic moment, we want to expand the program. We have ideas, but it is too early to talk about it – he emphasizes.
The Museum of the Second Session of the AVNOJ was founded in 1953 as a central, Yugoslav, museum, memorial institution that will research, collect, preserve, exhibit and publish historical materials related to the narrower and broader domains of the subject of this historical session.
The first permanent exhibition of the Museum was opened on February 18, 1959, and later had several refinements. By the decision of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural and Natural Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1971, the building, in which the meeting was held, was declared a cultural monument. During the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the building was devastated, and the museum’s materials, except for a few objects, were alienated. Today it is a public institution whose founder is the Municipality of Jajce, which in this way preserves the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina.