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Temporary Exhibitions

The main activity of the Museum during the previous century was the arrangement of temporary exhibitions.

One of the earliest exhibitions, most likely the first one, was an exhibition of paintings in 1929.

The first large temporary archaeological exhibition was arranged in 1950. It was held the northern hall above the entrance of the mosque and included artifacts from the archaeological excavations from 1948 and 1949 seasons. The exhibition’s purpose was to present to all Bulgarians the results from the recent excavations at: Karanovo, Russe, Maluk Preslavets, two of the city cemeteries of Apllonia Pontica (Sozopol), known as Kalfa and Marine gardens, Tumuli 1 and 2 near Koprinka, as well as the Thracian city of Seuthopolis, the Roman town near Gigen, various sites in Sofia, and two of the former Bulgarian capitals of Pliska, Preslav and the necropolis at Novi Pazsar.

In 1951 a new exhibition Life and Culture of the Pre-class and Early Class Society in Bulgaria was arranged. This exhibition later became part of the permanent exhibition of the Museum and was shown in the newly arranged rooms of its Antiquity and Mddle Ages sections.

In the early 1960s the National Archaeological Institute with Museum took part in large joint exhibitions in Paris, France (1960) and in Essen, Germany (1964). In general these exhibitions included some of the treasures sheltered in various Bulgarian museums and monasteries.

The exhibition, Old Bulgarian Inscriptions, dedicated to the 1100th anniversary of Bulgarian literature was on display in 1963. The opening of the exhibition coincided with the Fifth International Congress of the Slavistics.

An exhibition of Thracian art was arranged for the first time in the City Gallery of Sofia in 1972. Its chronological range was large, from the Neolithic and the Chalcolithic (Copper Age) in Thracia till the Roman period. The exhibition was rearranged and moved to the Museum in 1976.

Bulgarian archaeological exhibition was arranged for a first time in Paris in 1979. The same exhibition was later shown in Japan.

Rich exhibitions were organized to acquaint the foreign audience with the ancient civilizations in the Bulgarian territories in the second half of the 1970s. Exhibitions presenting significant objects of various cultures in partnership with foreign museumswere arranged in the rooms of the Museum. Thus, Bulgaria and the world public began to be familiar with each others history.

In 1976 an exhibition, Culture and Art of the Medieval Bulgarian Kingdom, was organized in the Museum and was on display until 1978. This was the first exhibition in a series of celebrations commemorating the 1300th anniversary of the founding of the Bulgarian state. Practically every Bulgarian museum participated in this exhibition. The National Museum of History, with very little experience in the organization of exhibitions at the time of the event, also contributed to the enrichment of the displays. This Museum was founded in 1973.This exhibition included artifacts that later became the core of many successful Bulgarian exhibitions in France in 1980 and in Mexico in 1981.

A series of foreign exhibitions could be visited in the Museum in the 1970s.

In 1975 an exhibition of Scythian Art from museum collections in the Soviet Union was on display. Gorgeous objects from the end of the third millennium BC till the first century AD were shown. This exhibition was organized in return for the Bulgarian exhibition Thracian Art and Culture in the Bulgarian Lands, arranged in 1974 to 1975 in Moscow, Leningrad and Minsk. The exhibition was accompanied by special cataloque with 155 entries and a bibliography.

The exhibition 3000 Years Mexican Art from Mexico was arranged in 1976. Treasures from the pre-Columbian period were presented. The chronological frame of the exhibition was from the 15th century BC till the end of the 17th century AD.

Celtic Art in Gallia from France was exhibited in 1977 presenting 205 objects, dating from the 7th to the 2nd century BC till the conquest of Gallia by Julius Caesar in 59-51 BC.

In 1977 the exhibition Treasures from Mihailovgrad Region was arranged. It set the beginning of a pleasant practice to organize chamber exhibitions honoring prominent archaeologists or presenting the archaeological heritage of particular regions of Bulgaria. The end of the investigation stages of these regions were marked by an exhibition.

An exhibition The Balts. Northern Neighbors of Slavs, was arranged in 1978. The exhibition was organized in collaboration with many Polish museums. This exhibition was the first attempt to present the historical development of the culture of the Balts from the Early Iron Age (5th century BC) to the end of the early Middle Ages in the 14nth century. There were 1039 exhibits arranged supplied with several maps, photos and graphs. The exhibition was of great interest for the audience and quite useful for Bulgarian scholars because of the existence of some common unresolved problems in archaeological research.

An exhibition The Art of the Aztecs was organized by the National Anthropological Museum of Mexico in 1978. The exhibition included predominantly stone sculptures and terracotta figurines, illustrating environment, society and religion of Aztecs and Mexicans in the Valley of Mexico toward the 13th century AD.

Greek and Illyrian Treasures from Yugoslavia exhibition, organized by the National Museum of Belgrade was arranged in 1979. 92 objects from the necropolis at Trebenishte were presented to Bulgarian audience for the first time. The finds from the same necropolis, discovered during the excavations led by Bogdan Filov and thus property of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum will be taken out of a secret depot and presented for the first time to Bulgarian audience not until in 1997.

The Museum of Gold in Bogota, Columbia, which owned the largest collection of pre-Columbian gold in the world totaling 26 000 golden objects, assembled an exhibition The Gold of Eldorado in 1980. A cataloque of the exhibition with 300 entries and many other articles that explained the religious and social significance of gold the Indians accompanied the exhibition. Various fuctions of golden objects and the level of technical development in gold processing were also illustrated.

The Art of the Vikings and their Predecessors exhibition from Sweden was also arranged in 1980. The objects illustrated the period of the Great Migrations (400-550 AD), and the Viking period (about 800-1050 AD). Metal processing tools, rarely seen in exhibitions, were on display. The exhibition from Sweden was in exchange for the Bulgarian exhibition Thracian Treasures arranged in Stockholm.

From 1980 to 1981 the exhibition Roman Treasures from the Rhein Region, assembled by the Roman-German Museum in Cologne, Germany, displayed 205 magnificent exhibits grouped. The objects were distinguished in collections of Roman glass, ornaments, bone and bronze objects, metal vessels, ceramics as well as gold ornaments from Cologne in use during the Roman period.

Ancient Egyptian Art, an exhibition organized by the British Museum, London, Great Britain was arranged in 1981-1982. 259 exhibits were distinguished by topics: sarcophaguses and mummies, amulets and scarabs, stone and faience vessels, ornaments, statues, stelae, and papyruses with the text of the Book of the Dead. Most of the artifacts in this exhibition originated from tombs and temples. The interest of the Bulgarian audience was exceptional. This was the first exhibition to acquaint in depth Bulgarian audience with the Ancient Egyptian burial and religious customs.

Troy and Thrace, an exhibition in collaboration with the Museum of Ancient History in Berlin, was arranged in 1982. The Museum of Archaeology in Sofia participated with a many exhibits, among them the treasure from Vulchitrun. The exhibition was shown with success in 1983 in Germany and in two cities in Russia (Moscow and Leningrad, nowadays Petersburg). It was also arranged in Rotterdam in 1984 on the occasion of the IV International Congress of Thracology.

One of the most elegant temporary exhibitions, Artistic Bronze from the Roman Period, was organized in 1984. It was arranged on the occasion of the Seventh International Congress in Artistic Bronze from the Roman Empire and Thracia. The exhibition included 451 bronze figurines, utensils, lamps, ornaments, and appliqués. The exhibits were part of the Collection of Artistic Bronze of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum, the most comprehensive of its kind in the country. The same exhibition was later extended to include some new finds and gained great success in Budapest, Hungary in 1984; Damascus, Syria in 1985; Delhi, India in 1989; and Berlin, Germany in 1990.

A new stage in the organization of the temporary exhibitions began in the 1990s. The National Archaeological Institute with Museum actively participated in international representative exhibitions, organized by different museums all over the world. As a rule authors of the entries in the respective cataloques were Bulgarian scholars.

Temporary exhibitions organized in Bulgaria were often shown abroad. They included objects from the territory of modern Bulgaria and sheltered not only in the Museum of Archaeology in Sofia, but also in other museums in the country. The National Archaeological Institute with Museum took an active part in the organization of these events. The Museum organized also exhibitions assembled of artifacts from its own Collections. Following exhibitions gained success abroad:

The Glory of the Thracians exhibition was arranged in three cities of Italy: Caliary and Sassary in Sardinia and Florence. All items in this exhibition were selected from the Collections of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum.

A second exhibition with the same name, displaying the earliest gold treasures and antiquities depicting the myths of the Thracian tribes, was arranged in Florence, Italy in 1997 and 1998.

Two Thousand Years of Christianity in the Bulgarian Lands exhibition was arranged in Italy in 2000. The same exhibition, enriched with items of outstanding interest and supplied with a series of texts, excerpts from ancient written records, chronological tables and definitions of basic Christian terms was later arranged in the Museum of Archaeology.

In this period the National Archaeological Institute with Museum actively used all collections and the experience of the staff to organize temporary exhibitions. These exhibitions were dedicated to anniversaries related to archaeological investigations, sites of great importance, collections and scientific problems. Exceptional exhibits were provided with rich illustrative material, maps, diagrams, and graphs. The budget of every exhibition, as a rule was small, and no catalogues were issued, but flyers and brochures informed the audience about the topics. Regardless of these drawbacks the number of the exhibitions was outstanding. They aroused great interest and the number of visitors grew constantly.

The practice of displaying exhibitions from abroad in the Museum continued also in the next decades. This activity was in the domain of the foreign cultural institutes and embassies in Bulgaria.

Several exhibitions were dedicated to anniversaries and particular stages in archaeological research in Bulgaria.

In 1990, an exhibition, 30 years of Bulgarian-Polish Archaeological Excavation at Nove, the village Stuklen near Svishtov was arranged.

Saint Sophia. The Holy Wisdom Exhibition was dedicated to the Day of the City of Sofia, September 17. It was organized in collaboration with the Museum of History of Sofia in 1995.

The culture of the Goths on the territory of Bulgaria attracted the attention of the Bulgarian audience for the first time after the arrangement of the exhibition Sadovets. 60 Years Bulgarian-German Research in 1998.

Iatrus. 40 Years of Joint Bulgarian-German Archaeological Expedition exhibition was organized in 1998. Bilingual brochure with plans and many illustrations accompanied the exhibition.

The 15th anniversary of research in the archaeological reserve Sborianovo was commemorated with an In the Steps of Time exhibition, in 1998.

Pliska.100 Years Archaeological Research exhibition was a very rich and informative display, assembled of various artifacts from the museums in Pliska, Preslav and Shumen, The Scientific Archives of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, The Chzech Cultural Center in Sofia and the Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The exhibition was dedicated to the 140th anniversary of Karel Shkorpil, who first began excavating Pliska, the first Bulgarian capital. Various artifacts from museums in Pliska and Shumen, the Scientific Archive of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the Czech Cultural Center in Sofia and the Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, were used in this exhibition.

A Road through the Ages exhibition, in 1999, presented the results from the 1998 and 1999 rescue archaeological excavations along the road Gotse Delchev - Drama. This exhibition was dedicated to the 130th anniversary of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

In 2002, a Tell Diadovo exhibition presented 25 years of Bulgarian and Japanese co-operation. This exhibition was dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Professor Matsumae, the founder of the Tokyo University.

An exhibition 20 Years of Archaeological Research in Sborianovo was arranged in 2003. The core of this exhibition was the ones assembled in 1998 with updated information from the last five archaeological seasons. A scientific conference accompanied the opening of the exhibition. On this occasion the Center of Scientific Research in France donated a canvas with samples of the reconstructed colours of the paintings in the tomb.

The history of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the archaeological heritage of the country were the focus of a 135 Years Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. TheBulgarian Academy of Sciences and the Archaeological Heritage exhibition. It was arranged in the halls of the Central edifice of the Academy in 2004. The exhibition included representative artifacts from all periods uncovered in excavations led by the staff of the Institute with Archaeology with Museum.

An exhibition, organized by the Museum with the cooperation of the Hungarian Cultural Center and the National Historical Museum in Budapest Commemorating Geza Feher was arranged in the Museum in 2004.

Unique artifacts from the eastern Rhodope mountains uncovered in the last 15 years of archaeological research were presented to audience for the first time in the exhibition Perperikon and the Eastern Rhodope Mountains in the Light of the Discoveries from 2004-2005 Archaeological Seasons. The exhibition included artifacts from the Collections of the Museum of History in Kardzhali.

The 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Museum was commemorated with a series of exhibitions. Beginning in 1990 The Gods of the Golden Source exhibition presented votive tablets and various artifacts uncovered during excavations at the sanctuary of Asclepios near Glava Panega, Lovetch region. All exhibits were selected from the Collections of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum.

In 1993, 100 Years National Museum of Archaeology exhibition was accompanied with a special brochure about the history of the Museum, richly illustrated with archive photos and documents.

- The Treasures of the Thracian Kings exhibition in 1992-1993, was one of the few exhibitions in the history of the museums in Bulgaria that was organized by several museums all with equal contribution. The exhibition was first shown in Pazardzhik, then in the Museum, and afterwards in all other participating museums. It was gradually enriched with new exhibits, predominantly recent unknown to the audience discoveries. It was well balanced both in terms of impact and importance from a scientific point of view. This exhibition presented the most complete illustration of the life of the Thracian tribes in a geographical, chronological and topological aspect. It represented a period of approximately 4000 years. This exhibition was designed for a Bulgarian audience.

Thracian treasures turned out to be a very often used, but successful objects in archaeological exhibitions. On different occasions and with different exhibits, several temporary exhibitions were organized with artifacts from the Collections of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum.
- From May and September of 1997 Treasures of the National Museum of Archaeology exhibition was arranged. This ambitious task of this temporary exhibition was to present the long period of development of Thracian art. For the first time the audience was acquainted with artifacts from the necropolis at Trebenishte from the Collections of the Institute of Archaeology and Museum.
- The Valley of the Thracian Kings exhibition was arranged in December 1997. It presented the results of a six years period of archaeological research in the valley of Kazanluk. The exhibition was organized under the patronage of the embassy of Switzerland.
- The Thracian Cult Center Starosel exhibition in 2001 aimed to present the results from the investigations of the Thracian tumuli in the region. It was first arranged in the Museum, than in the building of the Parliament and in the main hall of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences building.

A special significance among the long series of exhibitions in the 1990s had the Bulgarian Medieval Town. Technologies exhibition. It was organized in 1995 by the National Archaeological Institute with Museum with exhibits from many museums in the country. The exhibition aimed at presenting the most detailed picture of various technological processes in Medieval Bulgaria. Archaeological objects, plans, graphic reconstructions, miniatures and medieval drawings illustrated the main crafts during the Middle Ages. For the first time free flyers accompanied the exhibition, as it had long been practice in most of the world museums.

Golden and Silver Treasures from the 16th to the 18th century exhibition presented an interesting vision on medieval treasures. The exhibition was organized in 2004 and for the first time 16 treasures consisting of ornaments, vessels and church plate from the Collection of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum were on display. The exhibits illustrated the creativity of the Chiprovtsi goldsmith school.

The Museum of Archaeology in Sofia also opened its rooms to exhibitions from abroad. The National Gallery of Ancient Art in Palaco Barberini, Rome, Italy assembled an exhibition of Venetian Glasswork from the Renaissance to the 19th Century from the Collectionsof the Art and Industry Museum. The exhibition was arranged in 2001.

The Golden Age of the Mayolica exhibition, assembling some of the most valuable artifacts from the collections of the same museum, was arranged in 2003.

From Pentheli to the Parthenon exhibition was organized by the Archaeological Museum in Kavala, Greece, in 2004. This exhibition included many drawings of architect Manolis Kores. The drawings illustrated the extraction stages of marble from the carriers of Penthelikon; the carving of architectural elements; all stages in the construction of the Parthenon, and reconstruction of engineering activities during the construction. Drawings of different pieces of instrumentation used in the construction process were also on display.

Chinese Bronze: Highlights in Reproduction exhibition was arranged in 2005. The first Chinese exhibition in the Museum included selected replicas of various vessels. It was also the first time replicas instead of originals were on display in the Museum. This was because of laws in the Chinese Republic, which prohibit original archaeological treasures to be exhibited outside the country

The next temporary exhibition in preparation is, 100 Years of Exhibitions in the National Museum of Archaeology, 1905-2005.

Katya Melamed