Bosnia’s 124-year-old National Museum is closing its doors due to disputes among politicians and dwindling state funding.
The 1995 peace agreement that ended Bosnia’s war failed to envisage a ministry of culture, so the country’s oldest and most prestigious cultural institution — whose collection includes the 660-year-old Jewish manuscript known as the Sarajevo Haggadah — was left without a guardian.
For years, the museum survived on donations, but now those have dried up and employees have not received their salaries for a year. On Thursday, the staff left the building and nailed wooden boards marked “closed” over the entrance door.
Several members of student organizations chained themselves to a pole in the lobby and remained inside, declaring they will stay there until the museum reopens.
The museum is widely known for housing the Sarajavo Haggadah, which is believed to have originated in Spain and arrived in the Bosnian capital during the Inquisition. It was hidden from the city’s German occupiers during World War II, and was saved again during the violent disintegration of Yugoslavia by the museum’s Muslim former director.