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The National Museum of Montenegro is a complex of institutions comprising five museums: Historic, Ethnografic (with the Relief Map of Montenegro), the Museum of Arts, Njegoš Museum (Biljarda-Njegos's residence at Cetinje and his birth house at Njegusi), and the Museum of King Nikola.


This museum complex also includes the Library and Archives Department with over 100,000 books and over 100,000 documents, then the Conservation and Preparation Department and Documentation Department. Within the National Museum, there is in place an up-to-date documentation and computer processing system. It also serves as the central office for all Montenegrin museums. As of late, special attention is given to publishing activities and the presentation of museum exhibits. All units of the National Museum of Montenegro (except for Njegoš's birth house) are located in the historic town of Cetinje. Adjacent, there is also the Cetinje Monastery housing a rich treasury.



It was opened in 1989, as the youngest in the family of Cetinje-based museums. It is housed in the historic building of Vladin dom (Government House), built-in 1910. Its permanent display is a testament to the social, economic, political, military, and cultural past of Montenegro, from the Middle Paleolithic to the most recent days.


It includes the following collections: Prehistory and Ancient Times, Middle Ages, 16th, 17th, and 18th century, Creation of the Montenegrin State (1796-1878), Modern Montenegrin State (1878-1918), Montenegro (1918-1941), World War II and the Revolution and Post-war Development of MontenegroPart of the museum's holdings has been temporarily given over to the Historic Museum by the Centre for Archeological Research, the Museum of the City of Podgorica, the Polimlje Museum in Berane, and the Republic Institute for Monument ProtectionThese holdings dispose of some 1,500 items and over 1,000 (arms, flags, coats-of-arm, seals, archeological, numismatic, and philatelist collections, collection of arts and photographs, etc), which together with the items of once Museum of People’s Liberation Struggle (NOB), make a highly interesting and rich museum exposition. From 1960 the NOB Museum was housed at Biljarda.


Since its ambition was not only to cover the period of the People’s Liberation Struggle but also the development of the revolutionary labor movement and social events after World War II, it was decided to join the Historic Museum. Within the new museum concept, the display is entitled Revolutionary Labour Movement and People’s Liberation Struggle in Montenegro. The collection of fresco copies a part of which is displayed at the Museum of History, represents a testimony of the authentic beauty of fresco painting in Montenegrin churches and monasteries, today, unfortunately, for the most part, destroyed by the ravages of the time. Nevertheless, the collection provides a significant contribution to the understanding of the cultural development and socio-economic setting of Montenegro from the early 11th century onwards.




The Gallery of Fine Arts was established in Cetinje in 1950, aimed to study and monitor the development of fine arts, to collect, preserve and display artifacts of artistic value and, by proper selection, to provide a comprehensive overview of the most significant works of art. Initially, it operated within the State Library, and then independently from 1952 to 1963. Then it was integrated with other Cetinje-based museums into the General Museum of Montenegro (Museums of Cetinje, 1965), and eventually the National Museum of Montenegro (1992).


The Gallery of Fine Arts became the Museum of Fine Arts of Montenegro in the 1970s. Its holdings contain about 3,000 items, including some masterpieces of contemporary Yugoslav and Montenegrin fine arts. The diverse and extremely valuable holdings, displayed at Vladin dom, have been divided into ten collections: the Collection of Copies of Frescoes, the Collection of Icons, the Collection of Montenegrin Fine Arts, the Collection of Yugoslav Fine Arts, the Collection of Works by Foreign Authors, the Collection of Milica Sarić Vukmanović and Svetozar Vukmanović Tempo, the Collection of Caricatures, the Collection of Legacies and the Collection within the “Yugoslav Artists to Njegoš” Gallery (fine, applied and naïve arts).


The collection of Montenegrin Fine Arts holds a greater number of items and gives a panorama of Montenegrin works of art. Apart from the baroque painter Tripo Kokolja, it features the works of renowned artists from the late 19th century to the most recent times. Thanks to the patronage of the Montenegrin ruler, the first generation of young gifted people went for studies into the developed fine art centers (Naples, Rome, Athens, Paris, and Moscow). Although mostly relying on already outdated forms of academic realism (Anastas Bocarić, Milo Vrbica, Ilija Šobajić, Marko Brežanin), certain artists like Pero Poček, the originator of Montenegrin Modernism, Đoko Popović and Špiro Bocarić followed the trends of contemporary European painting (plain air painting, impressionism).


The artistic creation of the first half of the 20th century is represented by the works of artists educated in Belgrade, Roma, Vienna, Prague, and Paris, which may rightfully be said to belong to European Modernism. They accept the new literary expressions: expressionism, Cezannism, poetic realism, intimism, and socio-realistic tendencies (Milo Milunović, Miloš Vušković, Mihailo Vukotić, Jovan Zonjić, Petar Lubarda, Risto Stijović, Savo Vujović). The second half of the 20th century meant a real eruption of the “kindled visual art creation” in which various artists, following their own disposition and expressive capabilities, created a distinctive Art Poetica deeply rooted in the Montenegrin people. The most noteworthy teams are Vojo Stanić and Dimitrije Popović renowned worldwide. The works of Mihailo Vukotić, Milo Milutinović, Petar Lubarda, Branko Filipović, and Miodrag Dado Đurić leading Montenegrin artists without whose contribution it would be impossible to follow the development trends of modern Montenegrin painting, are displayed separately.


The collection of icons, held by the Museum of Fine Arts, may be classified into three units: the icons of Russian provenience, made late 19th and early 20th century, Italo-Cretan icons from the late 17th and 18th century which arrived in Montenegro via merchant and cultural links with the West, and icons of local masters, made within the icon-painting school of the family Dimirijević-Rafailović from the Boka Kotorska Bay. There are also some paintings of foreign authors with religious topics: the Execution of St. Genevieve from the 17th century and The Holy Family by the Italian painter G.B. Pittoni. In a separate room called the Blue Chapel, the icon of Our Lady of Philermos, one of the major Christian relics, originating from Jerusalem in the early 12th century is displayed. The robe of the Virgin adorned with precious stones (sapphires and diamonds) as well as a horseshoe-shaped halo decorated with diamonds and rubies, were made in the early 18th century by the most famous goldsmiths and jewelers of St Petersburg and Moscow.



The Ethnographic Museum of Montenegro was established in 1951 at the premises of Biljarda, together with a museum of Njegoš and People’s Liberation Struggle. Here it remained until the disastrous earthquake in 1979. It holds extremely valuable items from all over Montenegro illustrating the richness and tangible and intangible culture of the people living within its territory.


It disposes of a valuable collection featuring economic activities, nutrition, housing, textile crafts, arts, musical instruments, money, etc. The holdings contain some works of folk arts and crafts of high artistic value, bearing witness to the influences of various cultures and styles. The Ethnographic Museum did not have its own display area from 1979 to 2002 when it was finally placed within the building of the former Serbian Embassy. It is so designed to enable setting occasion thematic exhibitions, such as Chests in Montenegro From Fibre to Fabric, etc. The exposition is made of items in daily use: folk costumes, mats, coverlets, bags, rugs, prayer rugs, and some fine examples of lace and embroidery.


Most of the displayed items represent the supreme achievements of folk art. In textile crafts, the greatest diversity and richness are seen in the marking of rugs and national costumes. Rug-making, particularly developed in the northern region of Montenegro, reflects oriental influences. Several types of folk costumes from various parts of Montenegro are exhibited in the Museum: the one from Boka of Malisors, of Šestani, etc. Some 150 displayed museum items, mostly from the 19th and 20th centuries, confirm the centuries-long multi-national harmony in these areas.


As an integral part of the Ethnographic Museum, located within the yard of Biljarda, there is a pavilion housing the Relief Map of Montenegro. It was made in 1916-17 during the Austro-Hungarian occupation, by some Austro-Hungarian officers wishing to have a better understanding of and be able to exercise better control over the occupied areas of Montenegro during World War One. This topographic relief has a scale of 1:10,000 and was made on a concrete base with dioramic elements. Since it was tailored to suit military needs, the Relief Map of Montenegro is a unique monument of its kind in Europe


It gives rise to its specific historic and documentary value and the character of a work of applied arts, and thus in 1961, it was listed as a monument of culture. The Relief Map covers the entire present territory of Montenegro with the adjacent areas. Skillfully painted, it conjures up the magnificent diversity of the terrain. A significant contribution to shaping the relief, apart from Austrian experts of various backgrounds (lieutenant-colonels Mayer and Albert, major Sickel, engineer Miler, sergeant Sugar, and the academic painter Paul Grabwinkler), and Italian officers who were captioned (painters and cartographers), was given also by famous Montenegrin sculptor Marko Bežanin. The modern construction above the relief was built in 1979, with a guideway around the whole relief map. At the same time, the necessary conversation and restoration works were done.



Njegoš’s Museum is housed in Biljarda, the residence of Petar II Petrović Njegoš, built-in 1938, in the immediate vicinity of the Cetinje Monastery. It was named after billiard, a favorite game of Njegoš.he design of Biljarda was done by Russian diplomat Jegor Ozereckovski. It is a one-story building with a stone wall, a fenced yard, and four towers on corners well located within the spacious yard.


Biljarda had all the features of a fortified castle. In time it has undergone several radical changes. It was only in 1951, on the one-hundredth anniversary of Njegoš’s death, that the whole edifice was reconstructed. Its authentic appearance was restored, except for this part where Austrians built the Relief Map during World War One. Apart from serving as the residence of Petar II Njegoš, Prince Danilo, and King Nikola, Biljarda also housed many state institutions. For a time, the Negoš’s printing house, a grammar school, a theological school, and briefly also the Girls’ Institute operated there. The early 20th century housed various ministries.


However, Biljarda is largely associated with Njegoš. There he made his magnificent works, governed the state, and hosted many famous people in the politics and cultural life of Europe of his time. Today Biljarda is the place where one may most powerfully experience the time and circumstances in which the greatest Montenegrin poet created. On the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of Njegoš's death, a memorial museum was opened in Biljarda displaying many items linked to him personally and to Montenegro of his time. Today the museum's display is housed on the first floor of this edifice, while the ground floor is used for various cultural events. The oldest edition of Njegoš’s works, the original letters, and related notes are displayed also here. 


Njegoš's best-known work Mountain Wreath with all the 19th-century editions and subsequent translations into foreign languages occupies the central place. This room is further adorned with the work of art inspired by Njegoš, whose creators were famous artists such as Josip Tomnić, Johan Bes, Pero Poček, Ivan Meštrović, Risto Stijović, etc. Some authentic items illustrate radical reforms of the political and economic life conducted at the time of Njegoš’s rule. There are some pieces of the original furniture, the prince–bishop’s gown, a chair for rest, etc on the display. The exposition is dominated by a rich library containing, in addition to his own, also the works of Petar I Petrović Njegoš. The holdings also contain books in various fields of social sciences: philosophy, history, and literature, written in different languages. 


The original manuscript of the Mountain Wreath (1847), Njegoš's golden fountain pen, the inkstand, and several personal displayed in a separate china cabinet. There is also Njegoš's billiard table displayed in the billiard room, the one after which the whole building was named. The display contains a visit of Josip Broz Tito to the Museum as a sign of respect for the personality and the work of the Montenegrin poet statesman. Njegoš's birth house is located in the little hamlet Erakovići in village Njeguši, on the very road leading from Kotor to Cetinje. It was built by Njegoš’s uncle Petar I Petrović Njegoš, around 1970. It was adapted in 1973 and has the status of an ethnographic memorial building. 


Today it houses exhibits depicting the way of living back in Njegoš's times. Numerous and diverse items are on display: works of art, some authentic furniture, and cutlery, sumptuous, weapons, works of bishop-princes, and statesmen from the house of Petrović Njegoš. The central position is occupied by a stone hearth with cookware. The whole area is adorned with valuable works of art, thematically linked with the Njegoš Dynasty. An array of farming tools makes an integral part of the exposition.




King Nikola’s Museum was established in 1926 within the residence of the last Montenegrin ruler Nikola I Petrović Njegoš, continuing the tradition of collecting, preserving, and cherishing the national cultural heritage. The construction of the building commenced in 1863 and was completed in 1867. Unfortunately, the names of the main architect and the first builders remained unknown.


Originally, the building was intended as a residence for the widow and daughters of passed Prince Danilo. Since Princess Darinka, however, decided to leave Montenegro, this edifice was given a new function. The members of King Nikola's family moved from Biljarda to this new palace, as Montenegrins used to call itThroughout its existence the ruler’s residence has undergone a number of significant reconstructions, always aspiring to preserve its original simplicity and unimposing interior and exterior. 


The last major adaptations were done before the celebration of the golden jubilee in 1970 when the building was given its today appearance. Many foreign publicists, travel writers, and scientists, staying at the Montenegrin capital, left precious testimonies, often even artistic testimonies, of the Montenegrin court. The newly established State Museum (today the King Nikola’s Museum) united the holding of the Military and the Folk museum, the institutions established in the 19th century, as well as preserved inventory from the Montenegrin dynastic residences. Thus, early on in this operation, gathered at the same venue the most significant museum items related to the political, military, and cultural history of Montenegro


The museum provides continuous insight into Montenegro's state history, from Mid Ages to 1918, when it disappeared as an independent state from the political map of Europe. The permanent display here is designed as the reconstruction of the interior of the ruler’s residence with the fragmentary presentation of Montenegro's past in those parts where the authentic items for the restoration of the court ambiance were missing. In time, these collections were being enriched, primarily from family legacies. Today they are quite unique in many aspects, a fact of extraordinary importance for this institution. In the multitude of museums items, the following collections stand out: weapons (trophy and ceremonies ones), decorations (Montenegrin and foreign) flags (Montenegrin and Turkish), plaques, coat of arms, stamps, photographs, then the archaeological numismatic, artistic, ethnographic and applied art collections. 


The court library makes an integral part of the exposition. It is holdings include around 10,000 preserved books from once the court library was established in the late 18th century and subsequently systematically enriched until 1916 when the court was deserted. In addition to fiction, there is a significant portion of books in various fields of social and exact sciences in all major world languages. Some extremely valuable pieces of unique old books and documents and bibliophilic editions in luxury book covers with inscriptions of authors and publishers are also on display. The copies of the Prince’s literary works (dramas), translated into English, Russian, Italian, and Dutch are housed in a separate room.


There is a display also a copy of “The Balkans Empress”, printed in Cetinje in 1886, as well as the “Album of the House of Petrović’s” (1910), whose covers were decorated by Rudolf Valdec, a sculptor from Zagreb. The display contains incunabula from Crnojević's printing house: “Octoechoes of the First Voice” (Oktoih prvoglasnik), printed in Cetinje in 1493 (the first book ever printed among the South Slavs). It is the first illustrated book printed in Cyrillic letters. Montenegrin incunabula are characterized by their beauty and sumptuous decorations, a large number of initials, flags, and illustrations. Crnojević’s printing house was the first state-owned printing house in the world. On the occasion of its 400th anniversary (1893), Prince Nikola received five honorary diplomas from large European universities: Sorbonne, Oxford, Petrograd, Harkov, and Kazan.



This is the most important monument of this town at the foot of Mount Lovćen, where the destiny of the Montenegrin people was decided upon and where it was shaped. It was built in 1701 by Orthodox Bishop Danilo, the founder of the Petrović Njegoš dynasty, after the destruction of Crnojević Monastery. The new monastery retained the characteristic architectural elements of the previous temple.


Above the entrance to the church, there is an inscription of the donor, Ivan Crnojević, transferred from the old temple, and at the apse a table with the coat-of-arms of Crnojević’s family and along the south outer wall a number of decorative consoles. The old stone sculptural elements were given a prominent place in the center of the loggia on the second floor of the lodgings. The monastery complex was adapted and extended on several occasions and was substantially restored in 1927 when the new metropolitan residence was built. In the center of the complex, there is a church dedicated to Virgin Mary’s Nativity. Prince Danilo and Duke Mirko, father to King Nikola, are buried there.


Within the south part of the monastery, there is the reliquary of the St. Peter of Cetinje (Sveti Petar Cetinjski), because of which the Cetinje Monastery is often referred to by his name. On the northern side of the church, there is a cell of St. Peter’s. There are two-story lodging quarters with arcade cornices. Adjacently, in the so-called Njegoš’s lodgings, once the metropolitan residence, the monastery treasury is housed. Of the richness and particular features of the preserved items, it is one of the most significant and richest in Montenegro. An outstanding collection of manuscripts and old printed books from the 13th to 18th centuries is of particular importance. Some of them were even parchment manuscripts decorated with miniatures. Some of Crnojević’s incunabula are on display, some post-incunabula from the printing house of Božidar and Vićenco Vuković (first half of the 16th century), as well as the numerous copies of illuminated and silver-plated Russian editions.


Since Cetinje Monastery was the residence of Montenegrin rulers, numerous valuable items related to the spiritual rites were also preserved: panagias, robes, miters, scepters, etc. The panagias (necklaces with the image of the Virgin Mary worn by bishop-princes) stand out for their luxurious making. Also, the religious items made of precious metals, such as chalices, and patens (discos) crosses, then the icons of domestic, Russian, Greek, and Italo-Cretan origin draw attention. The treasury of the Cetinje Monastery holds some collections of votive gifts, reliquaries, stamps, decorations, and paintings. Following the 1979 earthquake, the monastery was restored and its treasury has given a museum-like design. By its historic mission played over several centuries, the Cetinje Monastery was the center of spirituality, free-thinking, humane and enlightenment ideas, thus rightfully occupying a prominent place in overall Montenegrin history.


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