Museum Archaeology in Serbia and the Myth of Museum Neutrality

  • Tatjana Cvjetićanin National Museum, Belgrade
neutrality of museums, political museum, museum displays, museum archaeology, ethics in museums, Serbia


The standpoint according to which museums present objective and unbiased facts dominates both the public and professional discourse. However, the widely accepted idea that museums can be trusted – because they are prestigious authorities, independent research institutions, morally and intellectually neutral, in constant quest for knowledge – is essentially wrong. From the inception of museums, over their many types, till today, not a single museum nor a museum professional, has been neutral. Museums are social constructs, and politics is a part of their base.  Nevertheless, the myth of museum neutrality perseveres, especially thanks to a large number of museums whose staff still proudly use their knowledge in order to collect and represent the museum material in an allegedly neutral and objective fashion, without interferences of reality and everyday life. The hypocrisy is evident in Serbia too, particularly in the case of historical narratives, but also obvious in permanent displays and exhibitions of archaeological material, as well as in the domain of museum archaeological research. The paper investigates the examples of apparent neutrality, the national, regional and local museums authorizing the achievements and superiority of the nation, glorifying the mediaeval history or celebrating the link to the Roman Empire, the ones that are the prestigious demonstration of authority, but as well the examples of personal interests and values that have formed the public discourse. These considerations raise the issue of ethics in museums.


Aronsson, Peter. 2012. “National Museums; Negotiating the Past for a Desired Future”. In Museums in an Age of Migrations. Questions, Challenges, Perspectives, eds. Luca Basso Peressut and Clelia Pozzi, 67–76. Milano: Politecnico di Milano, Dipartimento di Progettazione dell’Architettura, Mela books 01.
Aronsson, Peter and Gabriella Elgenius (eds). 2011. Building National Museums in Europe 1750–2010. Conference proceedings from EuNaMus, European National Museums: Identity Politics, the Uses of the Past and the European Citizen, Bologna 28–30 April 2011. Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, EuNaMus Report No 1.
Dostupno na:

Aronsson, Peter and Simon Knell (coordinators/editors). 2012. National Museums. Making Histories in a Diverse Europe. Linköping: Linköping University University Electronic Press. EuNaMus Report no 7.

Babić, Darko. 2009. “Museology and Heritage Literacy, from theory to practice and back to theory (case study form Croatia)”. In Muzeologie na začátku 3. Tisíciletí. Sborník z mezinárodního semináře Teorie a praxe 2008 = Museology at the Beginning of the 3rd Millennium, ed. Jan Dolák, 208–221. Brno: Technické museum.

Babić, Staša. 2008. Grci i drugi. Antička percepcija i percepcija antike. Beograd: Clio.
– – –. 2014a. “Afterword. When Empires Collapse”. In The Edges of the Roman World, edited by Marko A. Janković, Vladimir D. Mihajlović and Staša Babić, 252–256. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
– – –. 2014b. Zanat arheologa i dijalog s javnošću. Etnoantropološki problemi 9(3): 563–573.

– – –. 2018. Metaarheologija. Beograd: Clio (u pripremi).
Basso Peressut, Luca and Clelia Pozzi (eds). 2012. Museums in an Age of Migrations. Questions, Challenges, Perspectives, Milano: Politecnico di Milano, Dipartimento di Progettazione dell’Architettura, Mela books 01.
Bikić, Vesna i Josip Šarić (ur.) 2017. Mnemosynon firmitatis. Sedamdeset godina Arheološkog instituta. Beograd: Arheološki institut.
Bošković, Đurđe. 1959. Naša arheologija – danas. Povodom desetogodišnjice rada Arheološkog instituta SAN. Starinar n.s. IX-X/1958-59: 1–5.
Brkić, Aleksandar, 2013 Cultural policy frameworks (Re)constructing national and supranational identities: The Balkans and the European Union, Amsterdam: European Cultural Foundation and Riksnbankens Jubileums Fond. Cultural Policy Research Award 2011.
Dostupno na:

Crnobrnja, Adam N. 2017. Arheološko nasleđe u Srbiji danas – briga države ili posao entuzijasta. Moderna konzervacija 5: 77–96.
Cvjetićanin,Tatjana. 2014. Predmeti ili narativi. Arheološke postavke u Srbiji: utemeljenje muzejske arheologije. Etnoantropološki problemi 9(3): 575“596.
– – –. 2015a. Predmeti ili narativi. Arheološke postavke u Srbiji: doba artefakata. Etnoantropološki problemi 10(3): 557“593.
– – –. 2015b. Dunavski limes u Srbiji: uloga muzeja u interpretaciji i promociji Granica Rimskog carstva. Zbornik Narodnog muzeja XX/1: 363–383.
Cvjetićanin, Tatjana and Aida Vežić. 2017. “Museum, Peace and Reconciliation: the Impact of the Balkan Museum Network”. In Heritage and Peacebuilding, ed. by Diana Walters, Daniel Laven and Peter Davies, 77–91. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, Heritage metters series 21.
Ćirić, Sonja 2017. „Budućih deset godina”. Vreme 1385, 20. jul.
Din, Dejvid K. 2003. „Etika i muzejske izložbe“. U Muzeji i etika, prir. Gari Edson, 280–287. Beograd: Clio.
Đorđević, Biljana, Tatjana Cvjetićanin i Vesna Radić. 2005. Arheološka delatnost Narodnog muzeja. Zbornik Narodnog muzeja (Beograd) 18/1: 11–28.
Đukić-Dojčinović, Vesna. 2003. Tranzicione kulturne politike: konfuzije i dileme. Beograd: Zadužbina Andrejević.
Džonson, Metju. 2008. Arheološka teorija. Beograd: Clio.
Edson, Gari (prir.) 2003. Muzeji i etika. Beograd: Clio.
Edwards, Geoffrey. 2009. “Academics and the intercultural dialogue in the Balkans”. In Intercultural Dialogue for greater Europe: The European Union and the Balkans. Visions of Leading Policy Makers and Academics / Le dialogue interculturel pour la grande Europe: L’Union européenne et les Balkans. La vision des leaders politiques et académiques, 73–76. Luxembourg: European Commission, Directorate General for Education and Culture – Jean Monnet Programme / Commission européenne, Direction générale de l’éducation et de la culture – Programme Jean Monnet, Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.
Eilertsen, Lill and Arne Bugge Amundsen (eds.) 2012. Museum Policies in Europe 1990–2010: Negotiating Professional and Political Utopia, Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, EuNaMus Report No. 3.
Etički kodeks za muzeje. 2007. Etički kodeks za muzeje. Prevod na srpski jezik. Сарајево – Београд: International Council of Museums: (Dostupan na
Fleming, David. 2012. “The Political Museum”. Rad predstavljen na konferenciji ICOM komiteta za menadžment, INTERCOM Conference – #museumchallenges, Sidnej, Australija, 25–29. novembar.
– – –. 2013. “The Social Role of Museums”. In Museums and Intercultural Dialogue, ed. Ineta Zelča Simansone, 57–69. Riga: Learning Museum Network, The Learning Museum Network Project Report Nr. 4.
– – –. 2017. “Challenges and Dilemmas in Storytelling”. Rad predstavljen ne konferenciji Međunarodne federacije muzeja ljudskih prava (Federation of International Human Rights Museums), FIHRM 2017: Museums, Democracy and Human Rights – Challenges and dilemmas in storytelling, Rozario, Argentina, 28–30. novembar. Dostupno na: (Pristupljeno 25. 5. 2018).
Gavrilović, Ljiljana 2006. Muzeologija u vakumu. Etnoantropološki problemi 1(1): 45–58.
– – –. 2007. Kultura u izlogu: ka novoj muzeologiji. Beograd: Etnografski institut SANU, Posebna izdanja knj. 60.
– – –. 2009. O politikama, identitetima i druge muzejske priče. Beograd: Etnografski institut SANU, Posebna izdanja knj. 65.
– – –. 2011. Muzeji i granice moći, Beograd: Biblioteka XX vek – Knjizara Krug.
Gejbl, Erik. 2013. „Kako proučavamo istorijske muzeje ili kulturna istraživanja u Montičelu“. U Nova muzejska teorija i praksa. Uvođenje, priredila Dženet Marstin, 141–163. Beograd: Clio – Narodni muzej.
Gerštenblit, Pati. 2013. „Muzejska praksa: pravna pitanja“. U Nova muzejska teorija i praksa. Uvođenje, priredila Dženet Marstin, 644–665. Beograd: Clio – Narodni muzej.
Han, Verena. 1962. Regionalni i lokalni muzeji kompleksnog tipa u Jugoslaviji. Muzeji 14: 7–14.
Hegardt, Johan ed. 2012. The Museum beyond the Nation. Stockholm: National Historical Museum, Studies 21.
Holtorf, Cornelius and Anders Högberg. 2013. “Heritage Futures and the Future of Heritage”. In Counterpoint: Essays in Archaeology and Heritage Studies in Honour of Professor Kristian Kristiansen, ed. by Sophie Bergerbrant and Serena Sabatini 739–746. Oxford: Archaeopress. BAR International Series 2508.
Janes, Robert R. 2009. Museums in a Troubled World: Renewal, Irrelevance or Collapse? London: Routledge.
– – –. 2010. The Mindful Museum. Introduction. Curator. The Museum Journal 53/3: 325–338.
DOI 10.1111/j.2151-6952.2010.00032.x
– – –. 2015. The End of Neutrality: A Modest Manifesto. Informal Learning Review No. 135 (November/December): 3–8 ( Pristupljeno 25. 6. 2018).
Kuzmanović, Zorica and Vladimir D. Mihajlović. 2015. Roman Emperors and Identity Construction in Modern Serbia, Identities 22/4: 416–432.
DOI 10.1080/170289X.2014.969269
Lindauer, Margaret 2013. „Kritički posetilac muzeja“. U Nova muzejska teorija i praksa. Uvođenje, priredila Dženet Marstin, 249–275. Beograd: Clio – Narodni muzej.
Luke, Timothy W. 2002. Museum Politics. Power Plays at the Exhibition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Marstin Dženet priredila. 2013. Nova muzejska teorija i praksa. Uvođenje. Beograd: Clio – Narodni muzej.
– – –. 2013. „Uvod“. U Nova muzejska teorija i praksa. Uvođenje, priredila Dženet Marstin, 11–55. Beograd: Clio i Narodni muzej.
Mekdonald Šeron (prir.) 2014. Vodič kroz muzejske studije. Beograd: Clio – Narodni muzej.
Mihajlović, Vladimir V. 2013. Preko Ilirije do Evrope. Etnoantropološki problemi 8(3): 805–823.
Olsen, Bjornar. 2002. Od predmeta do teksta. Teorijske perspektive arheoloških istraživanja. Beograd: Geopolitika.
Palavestra, Aleksandar 2011a. Kulturni konteksti arheologije. Beograd: Filozofski fakultet.
– – –. 2011b. U službi kontinuiteta. Etno-arheologija u Srbiji. Etnoantropološki problemi 6(3): 579–594.
– – –. 2012. Vasić pre Vinče (1900–1908). Etnoantropološki problemi 7(3): 649–679.
– – –. 2013. Čitanja Miloja M. Vasića u srpskoj arheologiji. Etnoantropološki problemi 8(3): 681–715.
– – –. 2017 All Shades of Gray: the Case of “Vinča Script”, Архаика 5/2017: 143–165.
Palavestra, Aleksandar i Tatjana Mihailović. 2018. „Vinča: Vasićeva stratigrafska izložbena zbirka ili Grbićev neolitska postavka“. U Srspka arheologija između teorije i činjenica VI. Arheološko nasleđe. Knjiga apstrakta, ur. Zorica Kuzmanović i Marko A. Janković, 66–70. Beograd: Dosije studio.
Poulot, Dominique, Hosé Mariá Lanzarote Guiral and Felicity Bodenstain (eds). 2012. National Museums and the Negotiation of Difficult Pasts. Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, EuNaMus Report No 8.
Rajdel, Robert. 2014. „Svetski sajmovi i muzeji“. U Vodič kroz muzejske studije, priredila Šeron Mekdonald, 200–224. Beograd: Clio – Narodni muzej
Sandell, Richard. 2007. Museums, Prejudice and the Reframing of Difference. London: Routledge.
Sandell Richard and Eithne Nightingale (eds). 2012. Museum, Equality and Social Justice, London: Routledge.
Shanks, Michael and Christopher Tilley. 1987. Social Theory and Archaeology. Cambridge: Polity Press.
– – –. 1992. Re-Constructing Archaeology: Theory and Practice. London: Routledge.
Simansone, Ineta Zelča (ed.) 2013. Museum and Intercultural Dialogue, Riga: Mantoprint, The Learning Museum Network Project report No.4.
Dostupno i na:

Smith, Lаurajane. 2006. Uses of Heritage. London: Routledge.Svanberg, Frederik. 2012. “The Nation Collected”. In The Museum beyond the Nation, ed. by Johan Hegardt, 159–170. Stockholm: The National Historical Museum. Studies 21. 2012,
Šola, Tomislav. 2011. Prema totalnom muzeju. Beograd: Centar za muzeologiju i heritologiju Filozofskog fakulteta Univerziteta u Beogradu.
Vogel, Susan. 1991. “Always True to the Object, in Our Fashion”. In Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display, eds. Ivan Karp and Steven D. Lavine, 191–204. Washington: Smithsonian Institute Press.
Vuković, Jasna, Miroslav Vujović. 2014. Od informacije do poruke: arheologija i mediji u Srbiji. Etnoantropološki problemi 9(3): 609–624.

Walters, Diana, Laven, Daniel and Davies, Peter (eds). 2017. Heritage and Peacebuilding. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, Heritage metters series 21.