Saturday, 19 May 2007

18 May International Museum Day - the celebration here

Yesterday (18 May) was the International Museum Day. Bulgaria joined in the celebration by announcing free entrance into several of the biggest museums and galleries in the country.
Half of them were in Sofia, including the National Museum of History, the National Museum of Archeology, the National Art Gallery, the Sofia Art Gallery and the National Gallery for Foreign Art.
From 5 p.m. till 12 p.m. entrance was free and visitors could see not only the traditional exhibitions but also dancers, plays, concerts, etc.
I went to the National Gallery for Foreign Art (see photos to the left) where one could see Japanese paintings, African masks and statues, Burman Buddhist statues and carpets, Western Eurpoean paintings, paintings by Nikolay Roerich. Interestingly, there were mostly young people, families with small children. Even after 12 p.m. people wanted to enter but weren't let. I presume some have tried to visit all venues... I also wanted to see another place: the National Art Gallery where one could watch a play with historical context (as far as I could understand): but in vain... It had already finished. The balcony in front of the main entrace was overcrowded by young people, some of them were trying to enter just like us, but it wasn't possible.

I guess one could make two major conclusions from the event.
First, it seems to me that there's definitely interest for places of art. Although the visitors might not have been statistically significant in number, one can be certain that the interest for such places has been increasing recently. Which is a very good indicator in my opinion...
Second, the rush for art aightseeing happens only when there's an attractive campaign for the event. In this case it was the free entrance and the working hours, and - of course - the fact it was the International Museum Day. In other cases: the publicity made about exhibitions of famous works of art or national treasures. Like the exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci's scetches and models based on them, or the exhibition of the Thracian golden treasure in one of the few moments while it is back home in Bulgaria. At such events queues are hundreds of metres long and people come hourse before the opening in order to enter. The latter events are not free of entrance, but the ticket is ridiculously cheap: not more than 5 leva (worst-case scenario), or about 2.5 Euros.
So, the final conclusion is that people are interested in art and history. And it's not only about the money. It's only about publicity and/or content of the exhibition.

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