Five Essays on Bulgarian Museums and Communism
156 pages
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Five Essays on Bulgarian Museums and Communism

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156 pages
Français

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JF Lyotard argued that what makes history is less the complex of events occurred in time and in space then the new 'reality' reinstated by those who narrate the facts. Following the fall of the communist regime in Bulgaria this book explores a three-way relationship: between Bulgarian museums, communism in its Bulgarian variation and Bulgarian society. The link between the past, the present and the future of both museums and society is established by examining visitors' approach towards museums and the way history was and is represented in them by those who narrated the facts.

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Publié par
Date de parution 01 juillet 2015
Nombre de lectures 6
EAN13 9782336387185
Langue Français
Poids de l'ouvrage 4 Mo

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Five Essays on Bulgarian Museums
Gabriela Petkova-Campbelland Communism
The fall of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe marked the beginning Five Essays of the so-called transition period, which was smoother for some countries
and troubled for others. In all cases, however, it was a period of revision and
establishment of new social, political and environmental values, challenging and on Bulgarian Museums
diffcult to accept for the generation that lived for 45 years under those regimes.
A period of complete denial of 45 years of existence was followed by nostalgia and Communismand fnally by the acceptance that, whether we like it or not, communism forms
part of our history and part of us all and cannot be just wiped without traces.
This book explores a three-way relationship: between Bulgarian museums,
communism in its Bulgarian variation and Bulgarian society. It looks at how
the regime infuenced the development of the museum system but most
importantly it looks at how communist museums infuenced the audiences.
The development and changes in the perception of museum visitors, their
understanding and reactions are explored through their relationship with
museums. The link between the past, the present and the future of both
museums and society is established by examining visitors’ approach towards
museums and the way history was and is represented in them.
Gabriela Petkova-Campbell completed an MA course in French Studies at
Sofa University in 1994 and undertook a second MA course in Museum Studies
at Newcastle University in 2001. She was then offered a doctoral candidacy at the
same University, where she has further developed her Masters research interests
into PhD research with an accent on comparative museology. She was awarded
her PhD in 2007 and has since published a monograph and several academic
papers discussing and comparing various museological models in different European
countries. Currently she is living and working between Paris and Sofa where she
continues her research on the uses and misuses of history in museums in Southeast
Europe.
Photograph: The park of the Museum of Socialist
Art in Sofa, Bulgaria (author’s personal archive).
ISBN : 978-2-343-06785-8
16,50 e
Five Essays on Bulgarian Museums and Communism Gabriela Petkova-Campbell








































Five Essays on Bulgarian Museums
and Communism © L’Harmattan, 2015
5-7, rue de l’Ecole polytechnique, 75005 Paris
http://www.harmattan.fr
diffusion.harmattan@wanadoo.fr
harmattan1@wanadoo.fr
ISBN : 978-2-343-06785-8
EAN : 9782343067858
Gabriela Petkova-Campbell
Five Essays on Bulgarian Museums
and Communism
L’Harmattan























To Ian
















What makes history is less the complex of events occurred in time
and in space then the new “reality” reinstated by those who
narrate the facts.
Jean-François Lyotard















TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF FIGURES 11
INTRODUCTION 13
ESSAY 1 25
ESSAY 2 47
ESSAY 3 67
ESSAY 4 81
ESSAY 5 95
CONCLUSION 115
NOTES 121
REFERENCES 139

LIST OF FIGURES
Essay 1
Table 1 State funded museums and art galleries, source Kissiov
2004:21
Fig. 1 Bulgarian museum and visitor numbers according to the
Statistical Yearbook of the National Statistical Institute
Essay 2
Fig. 1 Sofia palace, today a National art gallery (personal
archive)
Fig. 2 Sofia palace in 2012 before the refurbishment (personal
archive)
Fig. 3 Sofia
archive)

Essay 3
Fig. 1 School group in the museum of Georgi Dimitrov in Sofia
(personal archive)
11

Essay 4
Fig. 1 The National Art Gallery in Sofia is situated in the centre
of the capital in the main building of the former Prince’s Palace
(personal archive)
Fig. 2 Posters at the entrance of the exhibition at the National Art
Gallery, Sofia (personal archive)
Fig. 3 Familiar faces? (personal archive)

Essay 5
Fig. 1 Nikola Vaptzarov house – museum, Bansko (personal
archive)
Fig. 2 Main exhibition hall in the house-museum ‘Vela Peeva’
(personal archive)
Fig. 3 The Museum of Socialist Art, Sofia, exterior (personal
archive)
Fig. 4 Museum of Socialist Art, main exhibition hall (personal
archive)
Fig. 5 The grounds of the Museum of Socialist Art, Sofia
(personal archive)
Fig. 6 The star, once topping the building of the Communist party
headquarters (personal archive)
12

INTRODUCTION
The fall of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe marked the
beginning of the so-called transition period, which was smoother
for some countries and troubled for others. In all cases, however,
it was a period of revision and establishment of new social,
political and environmental values, challenging and difficult to
accept for the generation that lived for 45 years under those
regimes. A period of complete denial of 45 years of existence
was followed by nostalgia and finally by the acceptance that,
whether we like it or not, communism forms part of our history
and part of us all and cannot be just wiped without traces.
This book explores a three-way relationship: between Bulgarian
museums, communism in its Bulgarian variation and Bulgarian
society. It looks at how the regime influenced the development
of the museum system but most importantly it looks at how
communist museums influenced the audiences. The development
and changes in the perception of museum visitors, their
understanding and reactions are explored through their
relationship with museums. The link between the past, the
present and the future of both museums and society is established
by examining visitors’ approach towards museums and the way
history was and is represented in them.
13

Why history matters?
1 In his monograph with the same title Tosh argues:
“Debate about the role of history in our culture turns on two very
different issues. The first concerns the political ends that history
might serve, variously conceived as national heritage, group
identity and political ideology. The question raised by such
histories is not whether they are valid as history, but what kind
of social role they perform, and this has become a significant
battleground of cultural politics. The second issue concerns the
validity of history as a branch of knowledge, in the light of the
Postmodernist assault on its credentials: can “history” deliver
sound knowledge of the past or is it better understood as a
projection – or a kaleidoscope – of very contemporary cultural
preoccupations?”

The present collection of essays will look at the first issue as
presented by Tosh, namely the political ends that history serves
and its uses in political ideology in particular. In Bulgaria there
are two historical periods which are seemingly difficult to come
to terms with: the Ottoman period and the communist period.
Both involve collective memories of destruction, suffering,
death. Since memory functions at an individual and a group
2level this book will explore both. More than 130 years have
passed since Bulgaria was proclaimed independent state after
five centuries of Ottoman domination but these five centuries still
represent a past so controversial that it cannot be discussed in a
sterile academic fashion without provoking heated debates and
even, sometimes, ugly reproaches and accusations. The
communist period is the second one, yet more difficult at present
having in mind that the collapse of the regime occurred only 25
14