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National Museum of Military History

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Ulitsa Cherkovna 92, 1505 Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Sofia
  • Posted 2 years ago

The National Military History Museum is a museum devoted to the country’s military past.

Since August 1, 1914, it has existed under numerous titles and has been subject to several organizations as part of the Ministry of Defence (in practice since 4 July 1916). It has a 5,000 m2 indoor display space and a 40,000 m2 outdoor (of which 500 m2 is covered) exhibition area, as well as a library and a computer center.

In 1956, the Varna Museum of Naval History, a division of the Sofia Museum, opened, followed by the Vladislav Varnenchik Association’s outdoor museum. The Sofia Military History Museum also manages the Museum of Aviation.

The museum holds almost a million artefacts connected to Bulgarian and European military history throughout its nearly a century of existence. It is Bulgaria’s only museum with three distinct exhibitions: an outdoor display of military equipment, a permanent collection, and a variety of other collections. More than 230 pieces of military artillery, aircraft, and marine equipment are on show outside. SCUD, FROG, and SS-23 missiles and launchers are also on exhibit.

From The First Bulgarian Empire until the current day, the permanent collection covers the history of the Bulgarian military, highlighting the country’s achievements, grandeur, and courage. It has a total surface area of 2,400 square meters. The first halls feature Middle Ages Bulgarian military attire. The Bulgarian Army’s stunning victories won a lasting place in international military history during the war for national independence, the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, and the Balkan Wars (1912-1913). Dioramas illustrating Bulgarian military involvement in the First and Second World Wars, as well as subsequent military engagements up to the current day, are also on display. More than 28,000 objects from the museum’s collection are used to support these themes. The expositions’ recreations, use of sound effects, and odd juxtaposition of goods on show with paintings by well-known Bulgarian artists all leave an impression on visitors.

Visitors with specialized interests will enjoy the rooms displaying the museum’s varied collections. Sharp-edged weapons and weaponry are on show in the first hall. Weapons from the royal collections of Prince Alexander I of Batenberg (ruled 1879-1886), Tsar Ferdinand (reign 1887-1918), and Tsar Boris III take center stage here (reign 1918-1943).

The honor medals are on display in two halls. The first contains 960 orders of merit, medals, and insignia that trace the evolution of awarding military excellence in Bulgaria. The military awards bestowed by Todor Zhivkov during his term as the country’s leader are on display for the first time in the neighboring hall (1954-1989). There are 600 exhibits of military uniforms in the hall of military uniforms, which are organized by era and rank to allow visitors to see the great diversity of costumes used by Bulgaria’s military.

Younger visitors may participate in educational events at the museum.

Facilities of National Museum of Military History

The NMMH has a total of 4 hectares of open area and 5000 square meters of interior display space.

Topics, chronology, and collections are used to arrange the museum displays. There are 28 000 exhibits on display out of a million treasures in our collection. The focus in the themed chronological galleries describing the growth of the Bulgarian Army is on the armed forces’ involvement in national unification conflicts. Weapons, decorations, and uniforms — the museum’s oldest and most valuable collections – are on display in the collection halls.

About 15 000 volumes of specialist literature are available in the library. It will soon provide onsite electronic access to the museum’s digital collections.

The museum storage facilities, which meet international requirements, cover 4 200 square meters.

The NMMH has temporary exhibition spaces – a 210 sq. m. hall, a 250 sq. m. hall, and a 480 sq. m. gallery; a 200 seat occupancy conference hall rigged for simultaneous translation in up to two languages; a 60 seat occupancy conference hall; a museum store; and a cafeteria – in addition to its permanent exhibition area.

History of  “National Museum of Military History”

With Tsar Ferdinand I’s directive No. 39 on August 1, 1914, a Military History Agency was founded at the Bulgarian Army Headquarters. It was decided shortly after that it would be made up of a museum, archives, and a library.

The establishment of the museum collections is started by order No. 391 of the Commander-in-Chief of the Operative Army, dated 04 July 1916, “… in order to preserve for all eternity all things associated to the events which mark the most significant chapters in our military history…”

Following the breakup of the first Bulgarian National Museum into two museums – the Archaeological and the Ethnographic – in 1906, the Military Museum became the third national museum institution.

The Main Military Museum’s inaugural exhibition did not open until May 12, 1937, at 15, Moskovska St., in a building leased from the Sofia Officer’s Assembly. The museum was renamed Central People’s Army Museum in 1949. The Museum moved to 23, Gen. Skobelev Blvd. in 1950–1951, where it debuted a new exhibition in 1952.

The Naval Museum in Varna became a part of the NMMH in 1956. In the same year, the first restoration workshop began for business.

The team from the Military Museum established the only Museum of the First Bulgarian Army on foreign land after a 1967 government agreement between Bulgaria and Hungary.

The museum was elevated to the status of a national institution and renamed National Museum of Military History by a decision of the Council of Ministers of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria in 1968. Its branches were the Naval Museum and the Park-Museum of Military Friendship – 1444 “Vladislav Varnenchik” in Varna.

The scholarly magazine “Bulletin of the National Museum of Military History” was launched in 1973. The “Annual of the Naval Museum” was launched in 2001.

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