The permanent exhibition Folk Culture of the Serbs in the 19th and 20th Centuries was opened in 2001 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade. In the ground floor, festive traditional folk dress is exhibited. The presented garments date from the late 19th and the first half of the 20th century, i.e. from the period prior to industrialization. The intention of the group of authors behind the exhibition has been to show the life at fairs, held in the past outside churches and monasteries. Fairs were occasions for trading goods, concluding business agreements, dancing and singing, and to young people they offered an opportunity to get to know each other. Old photos taken on such occasions are meant to give an impression of the atmosphere at fairs and complement the effect created by the presented garments. The arched surfaces above the central showcase feature the images of monasteries from throughout the Serbian ethnic territory in the Balkans (Krušedol in Vojvodina, Žitomislić in Herzegovina, Morača in Montenegro, Studenica in central Serbia, the Patriarchate of Peć in Kosovo and Metohija, Pakra in Slavonia and Krka in Dalmatia).
At the entrance into the exhibition area, there is a map showing cultural geographic areas from which the exhibited items originate. It is meant to highlight that the natural environment (relief, climate, vegetation) and historical circumstances had an impact on the way of life – clothing, habitation, food, customs, etc. During the tour through the exhibition, visitors can observe similarities and differences between the Pannonian, Dinaric, Central Balkan and the Adriatic areas.
The first floor features housing and habitation in rural and urban areas. Each area is represented by a typical home resulting from the impact of the area’s natural features and historical circumstances. In the Pannonian zone, this is a house made of rammed earth, while in the Dinaric area, this is a log cabin. In the Adriatic area and its hinterland, where stone is the only available building material, houses were made of stone. In the Central Balkan area, i.e. the valleys of the Morava and Vardar rivers, this is a timber-framed house – the Morava house made of wattle and adobe (sun-dried bricks).
The interior of an east Balkan urban home from the first half of the 19th century reveals a significant Oriental influence, both in architectural features and interior design, while the interiors of late 19th century homes reveal the process of Europeanisation. The exhibition features a drawing room with European-style furniture.
In some of the showcases, which show everyday family life, reconstructions are staged so as to illustrate the celebration of Easter, Christmas Eve and slava (the feast of the family patron saint).
Traditional economy is represented by tools used in the cultivation of crops, live-stock breeding, fruit cultivation, bee-keeping, olive growing, wine-growing, hunting and fishing.
Authors of the exhibition:
Bratislava Vladić Krstić, PhD
Jasna Bjeladinović Jergić
Design of the exhibition:
Branka Borojević Džokić
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Manak’s House was built about 1830 in Savamalska Street, by an old road that connected Varoš-Kapija (City Gate) and the old Belgrade urban neighbourhood of Savamala. One of its owners was Manak Mihailović, a Tzintzar (Aromanian) immigrant from Macedonia. The house was named after him and it has retained the name until the present day.