In Belgrade, we visit the Museum of the History of Yugoslavia, a complex of several buildings that itself has had a troubled history.
Originally, the site was the residence of Tito. Today, the Flower House, built in 1975 as a winter garden, houses his body in the form of a mausoleum, flanked by two small – very modern – exhibitions. The Museum of Tito’s Gifts, built back in 1962, now hosts temporary exhibitions, but currently the facade is being renovated. The gifts that the Yugoslav partisan leader and later president received from home and abroad are displayed – together with the exhibits from the former Museum of the Revolution – in the old depot. Many exhibits now seem bizarre. Among other things, there is a flag of Yugoslavia, which the astronauts of Apollo 11 took to the moon and which Tito was given by Richard Nixon during a trip to the USA. Also on display in the Old Museum are exhibits from the former Museum of the Revolution – along with contemporary installations by artists.
After Tito’s death, Slobodan Milošević moved into the residence. In 1999, NATO destroyed the building in order to target the Serbian nationalist. Milošević escaped and subsequently moved to a neighboring house. In 2001, he was arrested there and taken to The Hague, where he was tried. Today, a wall separates the government compound from the museum complex.
During our stay, the museum is closed, but we are able to meet staff member Mirjana Slavković, who guides us around the grounds and through the fascinating exhibitions. She has already been to Jena as part of the Exhibiting Contemporary History program of the European College of the Friedrich Schiller University and knows the city well. We talk about our application for the Future Center for German Unity and European Transformation and our journey through Central and Eastern Europe. The museum – also as a research and educational institution and its cooperations with contemporary artists – could be a possible partner for the Future Center in Jena. Mirjana Slavković wishes us every success for our application.
Text: Tobias Schwessinger & Christian Faludi
Photos: Christian Faludi