Slovenski verski muzej / Slovene Museum of Religion

Nataša Polajnar Frelih

senior curator

Slovene Museum of Religion

Stična 17, SI-1295 Ivančna Gorica, Slovenia

www2.pms-lj.si/sticna

The Permanent Exhibition "History of Christianity in Slovenia" at the Slovene Museum of Religion

"History of Christianity in Slovenia" is the first exhibition of its kind in Slovenia. It was put on display at the Slovene Museum of Religion, which is located in the oldest and the only remaining active Cistercian monastery in Slovenia (founded in 1136).The entire project was financed by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia.The exhibition is arranged chronologically through twelve rooms and consists of over two hundred exhibits. It tells visitors about the beginnings of Christianity in what is now Slovenia (in the 3rd century) and takes them on a journey through history spanning some 1,700 years, ending in the jubilee year 2000. The exhibition teaches visitors through the texts, photographs and objects on display. By viewing objects, reconstructions and copies, the visitor learns about Christianity in the late Roman period (early Christian centres with dioceses and numerous high-altitude settlements with churches in the southeastern Alps), the early Middle Ages (when what is now Slovenia was settled by Slavs and missionary activity spread under the supervision of the Salzburg archdiocese and Aquileian patriarchate), and the high and late Middle Ages (when the organisation of the Church was already fully established and when contemplative, military and mendicant orders played an important role in the spreading of Christianity).The history of Christianity continues with the Reformation and Protestant period,when Slovenes received the first books in their mother tongue. The exhibition then takes us to the 17th century, to the period of the Catholic restoration, and the 18th century, the period of reforms under the Habsburg rulers Maria Theresa and Joseph II.The 19th century was marked by the revolutionary year 1848, the Spring of Nations and the departures of Slovene missionaries abroad (Friderik Baraga to North America and Ignacij Knoblehar to Sudan). The exhibition ends with an outline of 20th century events. The exhibition also includes popular piety.Many believers turned for help to the Blessed Virgin and the saints at various pilgrimage sites in Slovenia and abroad, and founded fraternities and societies.
In our desire to present this extensive and often sensitive topic in the most suitable way, we opted for a relatively conventional approach. Apart from exhibits and reconstructions, we placed "information walls" with basic texts in each room.Two years on, our decision has proved correct. Visitors are reading these texts and, when they know what they are looking at, the story of the exhibition moves them more deeply. At the same time they experience the exhibition through the emotions that arise in them when they see the exhibits.The exhibition also has a strong pedagogical effect. It coincides with and complements the school history curriculum. Consequently, teachers are using our services, which is evident from the numerous visits by school groups.The exhibition can be seen individually or with a guide.
Because the museum is located in a protected building, we had to observe the limits imposed by conservation and restoration while mounting the exhibition. The architect designed the display in a way that preserves the unique original setting (16th and 17th century monastery interiors).The display only comes into slight contact with the interiors, which feature architectural elements preserved from different periods.
We remain extremely proud of the exhibition, which was planned and mounted by only four employees. This represented a great challenge and test for such a small and young team.