Bosnia’s Top Culture Institutions Closing Down Amid Funding Issues

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — Bosnia’s oldest and most prestigious cultural institutions have begun closing their doors one after another, thanks to long-standing disputes among politicians from its three ethnic groups and dwindling state funding.

In 2011, the seven institutions – among them the 125-year-old National Museum whose collection includes the famed 600-year-old Jewish manuscript known as the Sarajevo Haggadah – received virtually no funding from authorities in the Balkan nation and can no longer finance their work or even cover their utility bills.

The National Library is due to close its doors Friday, just days after the Historical Museum closed. The National Gallery shut down last summer, while the National Museum expects to close piece by piece in coming weeks after its power supply is cut off over unpaid bills.

“By no will of our own, we have found ourselves in the middle of a political battle and have become a political problem,” National Museum director Adnan Busuladzic told The Associated Press.

A main reason for the closings is the failure by political leaders of the country’s Serb, Croat and Bosniak peoples to agree on what to do with Bosnia’s shared historical and cultural heritage, and whether to even preserve it.

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