Visit three small museums in Belgrade - Meet great minds in great interiors

Visit three small museums in Belgrade – Meet great minds in great interiors

By what feels like a nonchalant hopping among three elegant interiors within the walking distance, you’ll get familiar with their luminary residents. Three important figures of Serbian culture who made us know ourselves better, introduced us to the world and brought the world to us. Visit the Belgrade homes of geographer Jovan Cvijić, writer Ivo Andrić and artist Paja Jovanović.

Original 1905 art nouveau decoration of house of Jovan Cvijić

Start with the original home of the scientist Jovan Cvijić. It is located in the atmospheric quarter called Kopitareva Gradina. The neighborhood developed in the first decade of 20th century and is still quite untouched. 

Jovan Cvijić (1865 – 1927) was the pioneer of geography and ethnology in Serbia. He was elected the head of the Royal Academy and Belgrade University twice. His geographic and ethnographic maps were used to draw the official borders of the new Yugoslav state at the end of WWI. 

Authentic ethno fabrics on furniture and artistic al secco decoration of walls and ceilings, 1905, House of Jovan Cvijić, Belgrade; photo: mgb.rs

The decoration of the house built for Cvijić in 1905  was done by the pioneer of decorative arts in Serbia, Dragutin Inkiostri Medenjak. Its custom-made combination of traditional local styles with art nouveau is aesthetically intriguing and illustrative of the spirit of Belgrade. Always melting and balancing between the East and the West.

Notice the al secco decoration of the walls and ceilings. The eagle carrying a geologist’s hammer over a sphere symbolizes the house-owner’s profession and his grasp.

Detail of 1905 al secco decoration of the entry hall, Museum of Jovan Cvijić, Belgrade

The custom furniture designed by Medenjak was upholstered in the ethnic hand-woven materials Cvijić brought from his field explorations in the Balkans. The devoted researcher spent 40 years in the field. While he was younger he would simply walk for tens of miles or ride a little horse. His explorations of the earth made him conclude that “all truths are temporary”. One of my favorite quotes to resort to.

To understand Serbia and the Balkans, observe Cvijić’s original map of the civilizations and cultures in the peninsula. Explains a lot!

The address is 5 Jelene Ćetković Street.

No-excess apartment of Nobel laureate Ivo Andić

Then call on another authority on Balkan region and its types.

Ivo Andrić (1892 – 1975), a Bosnian-born writer and a royal Yugoslavian diplomat, received the Nobel prize for literature in 1961. His apartment that shares the address with the seat of the President of Serbia (once a Royal Court) is elegant and a bit austere. So was the refined author himself.

Andrić’s original diplomatic uniform in the memorial room of his apartment-museum in Belgrade; photo: mgb.rs

This is the perfect setting to hear about the subject matter of Andrić’s novels and see his Nobel diploma. Find out about his interesting diplomatic path that ended at the position of the Yugoslavian Royal Ambassador to the Nazi Germany and why he was seen as a homme fatale in 20th century Belgrade.

Nobel Diploma Andrić received in 1961; photo: Andrićeva zadužbina

Andrić lived in the apartment from 1958 until his death in 1975. He lived with his wife, a theatre costume-designer Milica Babić, a lady whom he had been in love with years before they married, and with his mother-in-law.

The address is 8 Andrićev Venac.

Museum that recreates artist’s Viennese studio

Neo-renaissance portal brought from the artist’s studio in Vienna. Photo: Vladimir Popović, mgb.rs

To complete the experience visit the legacy museum of Paja Jovanović, at 21 Kralja Milana Street.

Jovanović (1859 – 1957) was a prolific artist. His works have been reaching their all time highs at world auction houses in recent years. This is caused by the growing interest of Arab collectors for the so called orientalists. These artists depicted genre scenes from cultures influenced by Middle East traditions,  flowing across the Ottoman Empire. Jovanović was already enjoying the benefits of the art market’s taste  before the age of 30. The demand for orientalists was coming from England and US then and he had a dealer in London.

Jovanović was a cosmopolitan who socialized with international high society.  Sought-after portretist, master of nudes but also the artist who painted the glorious historical compositions of Serbian past and folklore scenes, which copies became staples in Serbian homes.

Paja Jovanović, Female Nude, oil on canvas. Photo credit: Belgrade City Museum, mgb.rs. This is one of the portraits of the artist’s wife Muni. Their love story reminds of Pigmalion.

His Belgrade apartment-museum holds a nice little collection of his artwork. The decoration is impressive with neo-renaissance portal and Louis XV furniture brought from Jovanović’s Vienna studio. Although the artist never lived in this apartment, the atmosphere is there. Jovanović himself had chosen the artworks and objects to include in his legacy to the city of Belgrade.

A special group of portraits to see here are those of the artist’s beloved young wife Muni. His model and inspiration, Muni was portrayed as a Greek goddess or in other allegorical or more contemporary guises.

The nudes were never exhibited. The artist had made them only for the two of them. How wonderfully human it is to see a beautiful part of someone’s private persona, underneath all the fanfare of their public persona.

Check the working hours when planning a visit. Or give us a call to schedule your private tour.