Sarajevo siege exhibition in the History Museum
- darkometer rating: 6 -
A section in Sarajevo's History Museum that is dedicated to the siege of Sarajevo
between 1992 and 1995/96.
More background info:
see under Sarajevo
What there is to see:
The exhibition occupies one large room on the upstairs floor of the museum and contains various artefacts, from grenade launchers and stretchers to black market items such as soap or cigarettes or food rations and makeshift stoves, electricity generators and other improvised bits of daily-life equipment.
But the most captivating exhibits are the photos from the time of the siege. Here you can see the anxiety on the faces of the city's civilians as they crouch by the roadside avoiding sniper fire, or clamber along bridges whose road surface has been bombed away, or step over the corpses of people caught in the crossfire – as the text label points out: "death was daily 'business' in Sarajevo". The most gruesome image is one of victims of the second "markale massacre" – i.e. when a Serb shell tore apart dozens of people at an open-air market. This was the event that finally triggered NATO
intervention. There's also a photo of the very first victims – shot down by snipers on the (then) Vrbanja Bridge during a peace demonstration on 6 April 1992.
Text plaques in Bosnian and (fairly decent) English provide some background information. The tone of the language here is noticeably more neutral compared to other war-related sites or brochures (cf. under Sarajevo
> background info).
Very telling, and not requiring much explanation, is also the display of posters of various cultural events held during the siege, including a poster for the 1994 theatre festival one which says "to be or not to be" with the "or not" crossed out in red and the words "no question" added underneath.
The siege exhibition at the History Museum is probably the best commodified, informational dark tourism destination on this theme, esp. for independent visitors, even though the War Tunnel receives more marketing and is as such more on the dramatic side. Both complement each other pretty well and neither should be missed.
At No. 5 Zmaja od Bosne boulevard, about a mile (1.5 km) south-west of the city centre.
Access and costs: fairly easy to reach, and cheap.
: to get to the museum from the city centre you can take a tram, lines 3 or 5, which loop round the Old Town and go down the main Zmaja od Bosne boulevard (in the direction of the airport – this, by the way, is the infamous "Sniper Alley"!). But it's also just about walkable. And if you're staying at the (in)famous Sarajevo Holiday Inn (see under Sarajevo
), then it's just across the road.
is a mere 4 KM (ca. 2 EUR).
Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (only to 4 p.m. in winter), and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (summer) or 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (winter) at weekends – that's according to the museum's own sign and website (not updated in a while) – confusingly, the city centre tourist information office (and also the IYP guide) states different, more restricted opening times and claims the museum is closed on Mondays – so better check ahead or go at a time that the various sources seem to agree on.
No photography allowed.
Time required: between 30 minutes and a full hour should do.
Combinations with other dark destinations:
in general see Sarajevo
– other sections of the museum may also be of interest to some dark tourists, e.g. WWII
exhibits or the room with portraits and busts of Josip Bros Tito, the country's leader during Yugoslavia
era. He is also celebrated in the nearby "Caffe Tito", just round the corner to the right of the UN
aid memorial. The latter is basically a mock-up oversized tin, namely of canned beef, and also sporting the EU ring of stars on a blue background. It is a rather ironic, if not sarcastic, monument – as the story goes that often these tins of meat were seriously past their use-by date and that the contents, even if not inedible, were notoriously evil tasting. So the "thank you" that this monument is supposed to represent has to be taken with more than just a grain of salt. As so often in Bosnia
, it is unfortunately heavily tarnished by graffiti.
Combinations with non-dark destinations:
in general see Sarajevo
– just across the road is the National Museum, which deals with earlier periods of history, covering e.g. ancient Roman remains and the Ottoman era. Otherwise the History Museum is a bit off the general tourist trail.
- 1 - History-Museum
- 2 - History-Museum
- 3 - History-Museum open-air exhibits
- 4 - History-Museum outside
- 5 - UN canned meat monument
- 6 - UN thank you monument
- 7 - Caffe Tito