Modernization of tradition: First Woodcarving Museum opened in Konjic

To mark the European Cultural Heritage Route and the role of culture in economic and social development, the EU in BiH supported “Zanat” company to open a museum, which for the first time displays highlights from long history of woodcarving craft in Konjic area.

The museum was opened by the Head of EU Delegation and EU Special Representative in BiH Lars-Gunnar Wigemark and Besim and Orhan Nikšić, owners the family woodcarving “Zanat” company, which marked the 100th anniversary of its work in Konjic.

“This project is one of a series of those we supported in the past 12 months to mark the European Year of the Cultural Heritage. But, I would like to point out that this is not only about history and tradition but it also has a lot to do with the future, with new economic opportunities and opening of new jobs,” noted Ambassador Wigemark, adding that beauty and intricate technique of the Konjic woodcarving art has been recognised worldwide thus earning its rightful place on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. “This craft has been practiced and promoted in the area by people of different religious and ethnic backgrounds and as such it presents a true cultural heritage of local community,” stressed the Ambassador.

The innovative and modern museum is expected to significantly boost Konjic’s already rich tourism offer and create new opportunities for its citizens to both engage with their own heritage and create new opportunities for further development of their community.

Designed to look into the past but project vision of the future the museum layout has already attracted large interest of media and public across BiH.  How cultural heritage drives creativity is probably best illustrated by a link made between this woodcarving museum and the Einstein theory of relativity. “We envisaged this museum as travel through time thus its wormhole shape” explained Emir Salkic, the architect who designed the museum.

Starting with a display of photographs, artefacts and video presentations of the time when the first Konjic woodcarving masters started using this technique, the journey though the exhibition takes the visitor through 19th and 20th century all the way to the end of 2017 when this woodcarving technique was inscribed to the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

“We did it. The woodcarving museum is officially opened. Thank you Mr Besim Nikšić for cutting the ribbon and starting a whole new chapter for us. Special thanks to Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark for visiting us and helping us making this dream come true,” stated Zanat company.

The goal of the European Year of Cultural Heritage was to encourage more people to discover and engage with Europe’s cultural heritage and opening of the Konjic woodcarving museum was one of the EU-supported projects in a series of initiatives and events across Europe celebrating cultural heritage, diversity and starting an inter-cultural conversation about Europe’s common heritage.