The oldest house of Belgrade cherishes the immeasurable legacy of the people who created the cultural identity of our nation, and the silent war between Serbian educators Vuk Karadzic and Dositej Obradovic.
Museum of Vuk and Dositej is dedicated to two giants of Serbian culture: Educator and the first Serbian Minister of Education, Dositej Obradovic, and reformer and creator of Serbian literary language, Vuk Karadzic. The Museum was established on 28th February 1949, with showpieces of National Museum of Belgrade, and is located in the building which once housed the Great School, Dositej has been one of the Great School creators, and Vuk one of its first twenty students.
This special place on cultural and historic map of Belgrade and the Balkans, among which walls, the crucial events for Serbian culture occurred, also bears the famous story of the great teacher and the great student.
Did you know that there was a silent, cold war between Karadzic and Obradovic, struggle for language and language creation, which marked the 19th Century in our country. These two principles at war, the “peasant” and the “urban”, the “retrograde” and the “modern”, “provincial” and “European”, were represented by Vuk on one side, and Dositej on the other.
It is interesting that, after all the mutual arguments between the two Serbian educators, after a long period of time their legacies ended up under the same Dorcol based roof. The Museum building in Gospodar Jevremova, dating back to 1739, is of extraordinary importance, not only for being an example of Turkish city architecture, but also for being the oldest building in Belgrade. Museum building of Vuk and Dositej in Gospodar Jevremova Street built in 1739. represents a classic example of Balkans style house – of rectangular base, with exterior and interior ornaments and the house interior decorations, and is the oldest residential building in Belgrade. Due to its architectural and historic value, the Museum building has been protected as cultural property of extraordinary importance for Serbia. It is here that Dositej established the Lyceum, the highest schooling institution of the then Serbia – the Great School, the only one dedicated to higher education, which was active for three years, until the Second Serbian Uprising, with Vuk among some twenty of its students.
When Mina, Vuk Karadzic’s daughter, shortly before its death donated her father’s belongings to the Kingdom of Serbia, but it turned that, that is insufficient for a museum, whereas majority of Dositej Obradovic legacy burned in fire. Despite the few exhibits, Museum of Vuk and Dositej keeps the memory to reformers of Serbian language who created our cultural indentity.
The Museum has, from the moment of its founding, been divided into two parts – most of the space on the groundfloor was dedicated to Dositej. Here you can see first editions of his books, correspondences, but also portraits and sculptures. Items exhibited on the 1st floor are preserving the memory on character and work of Vuk. His room existed even earlier, within the National Museum of Belgrade. Majority of that collection consists of personal belongings of this great man. Large portion of Vuk’s books belong to the National Library and the archives of the Serbian Academy of Science and Arts, while paintings, private library books, personal and family items have become the core of the National Museum collection. Vuk’s room has been expanded in 1949, by the setting dedicated to his teacher and predecessor in the struggle to introduce the national language into literature, Dositej Obradovic.
From the moment of founding the Museum, tits collection continuously grew, and exclusivity of this cultural institution, certainly is the library, with more than a thousand books, including those printed in 1850, protected by the state as cultural property.
The value of such exhibits lies in their personal history, in the fact that they keep inside the jurney through time, Dositej’s private and official correspondence and Vuk’s notes and personal belongings. The preserved treasures make it easier to imagine and sense the world of the two great men and subsequent conflict between the two fascinant colossus.
autor: Miloš Paripović