The Museum building

Initially the newly founded institution was accommodated in the book depository at the Regional Directorate of Education in Eastern Rumelia, situated in those times at the Konak of Ismail bey on what is today „Hristo G. Danov” str. № 17, or „General Vladimir Zaimov” str. in the past. Very soon this three storey house became inappropriate for the growing museum and library, occupying two rooms there and therefore „the newly appointed governor А. Bashmakov in his report from 24 August 1882 has insisted before the National education directorate that the municipal budget for the coming 1883-1884 financial year would foresee a credit intended for the construction of a separate building for the museum and the library or for the renting of other, more appropriate premises”.

With a letter № 1964 from September 4, 1882 the Directorate notified the managing Board of the Regional library and museum about its decision that it had agreed to the second variant. Immediately the managing Board published an announcement in the „Maritza”, newspaper notifying „all the property owners in Plovdiv, with solid stone buildings, appropriate to host the Regional library that such a building is needed. Therefore those owners who could rent such a building have to report for an agreement”. But at this time it was difficult to find such a building that would meet the needs of the Regional library and museum. In the report of the Directorate for people’s education from 31 December 1882 to the chief governor the following could be read: [...] with a view of better accommodating the library and the museum a more spacious, more appropriate and more outstanding building than the previous is needed and this can be reached after a new ad hoc building be built for this end”.

Because the regional library and regional museum could no longer stay with the Directorate for people’s education on 1 March 1883 they left the Ismail town hall and were accommodated by the Director Il. S. Yovchev in a „building more appropriate for the purpose belonging to the saddler Eminaa Hadji Nedzhibov”, which was situated in the northern slopes of Sahat tepe, near the Evangelist church.

But this building was also extremely inappropriate for the new culture institution. For this reason the director Il. S. Yovchev started to work on the issue for the construction of a special building for the regional library and the regional museum. From 1884 the museum and the library were moved again, this time to the house of Anastasaki Tomidi on today’s Saborna street № 33, as the previous building (having become property of the Protohristov family from Plovdiv) was demolished during the digging of the tunnel.

Actually on the plot designated for a Regional library and museum, on what is today „Saedinenie”square, the building of the Regional assembly of Eastern Rumelia was built. The building was erected in 1884 and  1885 following the plan of the renown Italian architect Pietro Montani, but because of the Unification that occurred on 6 September 1885 remained unoccupied by the Regional Assembly.

In a letter from 11 January 1886 to the Ministry of the National Education it becomes clear that the Director, Il. Yovchev was expecting that the newly built building of the Regional Assembly be given to the regional library and regional museum. In a telegram from 24 February 1886 from the Ministry of the National Education to Il. Yovchev, the decision for the transfer on 1 March 1886 was announced. Starting from this date the library and the museum were moved to a new own building on № 1 „Saedinenie” square. Previously on this place the Thursday market was situated, which in fact, after the Liberation, by the end of the century has been moved to this square having been cleared after many small buildings from the Turkish times and a derelict mosque have been demolished. Around the Thursday market square in those times, the building of the Library and of the museum, the headquarters of the IInd Thracian military division and a couple of private houses were situated.

With an order № 5314 from 27 September 1923 of the Ministry of the National Education, in the claim of B. Dyakovich, a commission was appointed with the task to examine the issue of the conceded building of the Plovdiv Tax Directorate (owned by the Ministry of Finance) and to the Plovdiv Library-museum, adjacent to its main building. Most of the scholars deem that this building is like a northern wing of the main building and these are the present day premises of the „Archaeological museum”. It has been built some years later (at the end of XIX c.). The above mentioned commission has gathered on 12 October 1923 and has found that the premises of the library-museum were too narrow and that the adjacent premises of the tax directorate had to be associated given that they were appropriate for a museum in terms of style and of interior layout. For this end it was necessary to find a new building for the tax directorate.

Plans and cost estimates for the necessary repair works for the library-museum building have been preserved. „We have asked more than once” – B. Dyakovich reports – „that the adjacent building of the tax directorate be given to the museum, but all this reasoning remained unattended”.

In the „Pravda” newspaper from 2 April 1924 the following statement on this issue has been published: „Still from the rumelian times our fathers built special buildings for the regional library and the regional museum, where the citizens of Plovdiv found knowledge and spiritual satisfaction. But we do not know how, in one of these two buildings on the Saedinenie square, where a market is held each Thursday, the state tax officers do not move and they impede the best organized cultural institution in our town to establish it self [...].”

B. Dyakovich shared his thoughts on the issue of the building in the „South – Plovdiv” newspaper in 1927 as follows: „[...] For this purpose at the dawn of our cultural and political life the Private Council of the Region (Eastern Rumelia) in a session from 17 May 1883 made the decision that an appropriate building for the library and the museum be constructed. The Plovdiv town council from those times (the mayor was the late statesman Petko Karavelov) in an extraordinary session from 25 October 1883 made the decision to donate to the government one of the best places in the centre of the town „for the construction of a regional library and museum.” There was already a plan for an imposing building made by the Directorate for the public buildings. [...]

More than 40 years elapsed since the first people in our newly liberated father land with the government at their head and the two municipal councils gave plans and plots for the construction of the most needed cultural institutions in each country – for the people’s museums and libraries of liberated Bulgaria. Since then and until this day could not the rulers of this country find ways to fulfill the legacy of the constructors in Bulgaria? There were many wars, necessary and unnecessary rail ways have crossed our lands, military buildings, hospitals, churches, beautiful theatre sand scenery etc. were built; many heavy buildings were built and are still in construction for unproven and questionable aims etc. And for all this huge amounts of money are found. Only there is not money for the state store houses of the most precious monuments! They are superfluous, no body needs them! „Tax clerks, tax clerks are needed for Bulgaria, not libraries and museums!”- cynically yells a tax director when a museum building was mentioned to him ... .

And in fact, on the plot donated for a National museum in Plovdiv a tax directorate was built [...]. While the ancient monuments of Bulgaria stay unattended and get lost under the sky in the yards or in the humid store rooms. The instructed people build palaces for their monuments, - are we not going, for the 50-th anniversary of motherland Bulgaria to follow the will of our forefathers who have even donated plots for this end?

If there is not time only for the museums isn’t it time that the town councils in [...] Plovdiv issue an ultimatum to the state: „we shall either built the museum on the allotted plot by the end of 1928 or we will take it back”.

After the big earthquake on 14 April and in the night of 18 April 1928, as the library has claimed and as the Minister of the Finance ordered the museum has been transferred to the Tax directorate building.

B. Dyakovich has worked since in 1911 on the idea of moving the museum into the premises where it is still today. „From the ruins of the Tax directorate the building of the Plovdiv People’s museum emerged, the only state museum in the whole Bulgaria with its own building”. From those times the museum was renamed into People’s museum. Following a telegram sent by the Director of the Museum in those times B. Dyakovich to the financial minister prof. Vl. Mollov, with letter № 13744 from 07 August 1928 the building was accepted by Iv. Radoslavov, Deputy Director of the Plovdiv People’s Library and Museum with an act from 8 August 1928 „the state building on „Saedinenie” square, having hosted so far the tax clerks will be used to provide more space to the Plovdiv library and Museum.” The keys of the building, together with the act were given to the Director. It is known that on this date an autonomous state People’s museum in Plovdiv „the capital of ancient thrace and of Southern Bulgaria” was founded. After the building was taken hold of, it was repaired and adapted to be a museum. The repair works have been launched in July 1929 and continued until June 1930. After this date, the collections were moved to the new museum building. According to the plan the building had to be transformed from a previous tax directorate into an adapted museum building.

On 1 December 1930 the new museum building was opened for visitors and the institution it self was re-named into „People’s Archaeological Museum”. An iron fence has been put in the yard from „P. Karavelov” street, which was paved and many „ancient stones” were displayed.

After 4 more years, it turned out that this building is not sufficient for one museum, a fact that raised the issue even in the end of the XXes for a possible extension of the building in the future. From 10. 03. 1945 the office was established as a people’s Archaeological Museum with an institute.

A reconstruction of the „Pre-historic" department” was carried out in 1952, two years later the „Ancient” department was also reconstructed. The open air stone collection in the inner yard of the museum was created at the same time. The „Medieval” department was opened in 1955.

In 1995 – 1999 a plan for the repair and strengthening of the building was prepared (arch. Dzheneva). In 2003 a new plan for overall repair works and for enlargement of the museum building was made (arch. Shopov). The implementation of this plan and the construction of a new museum building were launched in 2006.
In 2010 repairs and renovation completed.