The Historical Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of former Yugoslavia’s most daring architectural showpieces. Designed by three architects from Zagreb — Boris Magaš, Edo Šmidihen, and Radovan Horvat — the building consists of a giant concrete cuboid, balanced atop steel walkways and dressed in glass walls. Inside, a giant constructivist mosaic with red and yellow splashes animates the grand concrete staircase at the heart of the building.
The institution initially opened as the Museum of National Liberation in 1945, and was originally based out of a city hall building. It later changed its name to the Museum of National Revolution of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1949, and moved to its current premises in 1963. It changed its name again in 1993, to better reflect its changing mission. Now known widely as the Historical Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it strives to teach visitors about the country’s complex recent history. Its permanent collection includes one floor dedicated to the Sarajevo siege, while the basement features artefacts from the Yugoslav era, from paintings to colourful children’s batons. The programme features year-round events and temporary exhibitions.
Both the museum’s garden and the adjoining Tito cafe have become social hangouts in Sarajevo. Yet in spite of the buzz surrounding the building, the structure is in relatively poor condition, largely due to the Bosnian government’s continued neglect of its modernist heritage. Like many of the country’s other cultural institutions, the Historical Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina largely relies on grants, as well as renting out its spaces in order to cover basic needs.