National Museum

Project info


Competition | Competition Entry


Square of Republic, Belgrade | Serbia


City Administration | Belgrade


68 481 m2 gross


19.500.000 $


Schematic Design




Ilja Mikitišin

The National Museum in Belgrade is located on one of the key memory locations of the capital of Serbia, more accurately on the main square where is also a monument to the prince Mihailo Obrenovic and the Serbian National Theater. The museum building was built in 1903 and enlarged 1930. Its rich decorative plastic façade represents an example of public palaces in Belgrade architecture from the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. In this context, the building of the National Museum has a dual role: presentable and representative! In a presentational sense, it represents itself, since it is one of the symbolic signs of cultural identity, and in a representative sense it symbolizes the entire cultural heritage of the country. Having all these circumstances in mind as well as long-delayed resolution of the Republic Square urbanistic problem, with a disastrous current state of the Museum itself, the future intervention would have to have an interactive effect not only on the Museum building, but also on the Republic Square. The inexhaustible connection between the Market and the National Museum is fully and comprehensible to the historical relation of the merged courts.

The collapse of the building, the problems of security and the preservation of collections, the bad conditions of keeping and exhibiting the curative goods with all the technical and technological obsolescence of the building is more than sufficient reason for the fundamental reconstruction of the National Museum. Perhaps, prior to the very presentation of a new concept and vision of the future appearance of the museum, it will be more appropriate to point out the functional reasons that brought the building to present state. The primary building was built in 1903 for the needs of the Fund Management and was completed in 1930 in the context of the expansion of the building for the needs of the State Mortgage Bank, representing one of the earliest banking facilities in our country. Until now, all subsequent interventions did not change the basic essence of the building, although it was used for the National Museum from early 1950s. In fact, today we have a classic business-banking functional scheme of the building in front of us.

The content of museum activities, without any specific clarification, is simply absurd to embed into an inadequate banking functional scheme. The desire to change the present functional organization of the building into a modern-museum, with neutrality and good connection between the exhibition space on each floor and their simple, unequivocal vertical unity, indicated the need to remove one of the two cosmetic protected stairways. The staircase position within the building, built in 1930, is central to the entire museum, and therefore deserves protection from demolishing, but the staircase at the entrance from the Republic Square, the impression is gained, serves only as historic decoration of the building, which makes confusion, disorientation and non-union with the rest of the building. The decision to remove the staircase and all parts of the facility within the former councilor opened up opportunities for the formation of a new atrium of the object with natural zenithal lighting, giving the entrance hall of the museum the necessary width, breathability and natural light. This made the spatial connection between the main entrance hall from the Market and the entrance hall from Vasina Street. The natural light of the new atrium illuminates a part of the basement floor below the main hall. This intervention was intended to create, besides the symbiosis of the space, the impression of the memory of the entrance to the museum.

A significant intrusion within the new concept is the return of natural zenithal lighting to the existing exhibition atrium (formerly a sales counter) and restoration of the second floor under the new look of atrium. The second floor is in almost all elements identical to the first floor with the appearance of the Passarella, giving the atrium a spatial dynamic. In the basement floor, a decision was taken to demolish the former treasury in order to obtain a new exhibition space. This intervention stems from the view that the present appearance of the Treasury is an inadequate space for the functioning of depot needs and a desire to get as much space to exhibit. The new exhibition space gets the purpose of exhibiting of archeology. Most of the basement floors are completely unsuitable for the needs of preserving cultural goods in terms of size and communication links, so that the extension of the central depot as space below the surface of the Market is added to the new functional scheme of the museum. The difference between the existing basement and the new space below the Square was made over the stairs and freight platform. The third and fourth floors represent completely new spatial structures, where the elemental elements are the entrance and exhibition atrium. The last intervention is the addition of an outer stairway and a ramp to avoid denivelation in the narrow entrance entrances, as well as to realize the possibility of unhindered entry into the museum of persons with disabilities. This type of intervention is not an imperative of the concept, it is more of an opinion that the National Museum has always been perceived as " behind the monuments, and the change would be that this true Belgrade palace will finally be seen as a "monument in front of the museum"

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