Sarajevo museum housing iconic Haggadah to re-open

Employees at Bosnia’s National Museum returned to work on Wednesday to prepare for the re-opening of the institution which was closed three years ago over a lack of funding.

The country’s authorities have promised to provide funding for the landmark Sarajevo museum and to open it on September 15 following years of failed attempts to agree on how to finance it.

The museum harbours the Sarajevo Haggadah, a 14th century Jewish book for Passover seen as one of the oldest Sephardic Haggadahs. It found home in Sarajevo after its exodus from Spain and is a symbol of historic religious co-existence in Bosnia.

The 127-year-old museum had outlived the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, two world wars and the break-up of Yugoslavia but has fallen victim of Bosnia’s complex government system.

Its status, along with six other national institutions, has never been resolved after the country was split into two ethnically-based regions after the end of Bosnia’s 1992-95 war.

Bosnia still remains divided along ethnic lines. The country’s autonomous Serb Republic has refused to finance the museum because it is not in its territory. Over the past month, more than 1,500 people have joined a civic action “I am the Museum”, guarding the national heritage along with museum workers. Companies and individuals donated food and technical equipment for the museum and a multimedia concert was devoted to a journey of the 600-year-old Haggadah from Spain across Italy to Sarajevo.

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