The National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Zemaljski Muzej) was founded in 1888 when Bosnia was under control of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and moved to its present, regal Art Nouveau accommodation in 1913 as its collections grew. It was closed during both world wars and its complex of galleries was heavily damaged during the 1,425-day Siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s. Due to political in-fighting and lack of funding, the beleaguered museum shut again in 2012 but happily reopened in September 2015 to display some of its four million artifacts in a series of light-filled galleries; during this
last closure staff worked unpaid to conserve the museum’s exhibits.
Along with a 300,000-volume reference and research library, the museum has three departments (archaeology, ethnology and natural history) crammed with medieval art, ancient armor, stuffed bears and countless other treasures covering thousands of years of Bosnian history. The ethnology selections are particularly strong, highlighting the multi-cultural nature of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s culture with an appealing mix of Bosnian, Serbian, Muslim and Jewish ethnic costumes. Neolithic ceramics from the excavations at suburban Butmir are the centerpiece of the archaeology collections; and to view the museum’s prize piece, the priceless Sarajevo Haggadah (Jewish Passover manuscript), call two days in advance of your visit.