European Union External Action

Modernising cultural heritage and local tradition – woodcarving museum opens in Bosnia and Herzegovina

29/07/2019 - 17:28
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Woodcarving is an artistic craft with a long tradition in the municipality of Konjic in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The woodcarvings - including furniture, sophisticated interiors and small decorative items - stand out with their recognizable hand-carved motifs and overall visual identity.

To mark the European Cultural Heritage Route and the role of culture in economic and social development, the EU in Bosnia and Herzegovina supported “Zanat” company to open a museum, which for the first time displays highlights from long history of woodcarving craft in Konjic area in Herzegovina region.

Besim and Orhan Nikšić, owners of the family woodcarving “Zanat” company, which marked the 100th anniversary of its work in Konjic, and EU Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark opened the museum in June this year.

“This project is one of a series of those we supported in the past 12 months to mark the European Year of the Cultural Heritage. This is not only about history and tradition but it also has a lot to do with the future, with new economic opportunities and opening of new jobs,” noted Ambassador Wigemark, adding that beauty and intricate technique of the Konjic woodcarving art has been recognised worldwide thus earning its rightful place on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. “This craft has been practiced and promoted in the area by people of different religious and ethnic backgrounds and as such it presents a true cultural heritage of local community,” Wigemark stressed.

The innovative and modern museum is expected to significantly boost Konjic’s already rich tourism offer and create new opportunities for its citizens to both engage with their own heritage and create new opportunities for further development of their community.

Designed to look into the past but project vision of the future the museum layout has already attracted large interest of media and public across the country.  How cultural heritage drives creativity is probably best illustrated by a link made between this woodcarving museum and the Einstein theory of relativity.

“We envisaged this museum as travel through time thus its wormhole shape” explained Emir Salkic, the architect who designed the museum.

Starting with a display of photographs, artefacts and video presentations of the time when the first Konjic woodcarving masters started using this technique, the journey though the exhibition takes the visitor through 19th and 20th century all the way to the end of 2017 when this woodcarving technique was inscribed to the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

“We did it. The woodcarving museum is officially opened. Thank you Mr Besim Nikšić for cutting the ribbon and starting a whole new chapter for us. Special thanks to Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark for visiting us and helping us making this dream come true,” stated Zanat company.

The goal of the European Year of Cultural Heritage was to encourage more people to discover and engage with Europe’s cultural heritage and opening of the Konjic woodcarving museum was one of the EU-supported projects in a series of initiatives and events across Europe celebrating cultural heritage, diversity and starting an inter-cultural conversation about Europe’s common heritage.