Bulgaria, Louvre Museum Mull Organizing Exhibit on Tsars, Christian Art of Medieval Bulgarian Empire

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Bulgaria’s 2015 exhibition on Ancient Thrace in the Louvre Museum in Paris made headlines in French and international media. Photo: Louvre Museum Facebook Page

By Ivan Dikov / 04.02.2016
Archaeology in Bulgaria

The next big exhibition to be organized jointly by Bulgaria’s Ministry of Culture and the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, could be on the Bulgarian Tsars and their medieval Christian Empire, the Ministry has announced.

The Bulgarian Minister of Culture Vezhdi Rashidov and the President-Director of the Louvre Museum Jean-Luc Martinez have recently signed in Paris a new five-year cooperation agreement.

Under the previous five-year cooperation agreement, the two institutions organized Bulgaria’s 2015 Ancient Thracian exhibition in the Louvre Museum in Paris which was entitled “Thracian Kings’ Epic. Archaeological Discoveries in Bulgaria” (also translated as “The Saga of the Thracian Kings”; in French: L’Épopée des rois thraces Découvertes archéologiques en Bulgarie). (Check out some of our stories on the Ancient Thracian exhibit via the links below.)

Despite some criticism over its organization, the Louvre exhibition on Ancient Thrace has been celebrated as a major success by the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture.

It is estimated to have been viewed by between 3 and 4 million visitors of what is one the world’s top museums, and received in-depth coverage in a number of major French and international media, general and specialized alike.

“[The new agreement with the Louvre] guarantees that over the next five years there will be very active cooperation agreement in the scientific research of Ancient Greek, Etruscan, Roman, and Oriental artifacts, cooperation in the fight against the illegal trafficking of antiques, support for the Bulgarian-French archaeological expedition “Apollonia Pontica” in [the Black Sea town of] Sozopol with the participation of the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology and prominent French researchers, and exchanges and training of experts from both countries,” states the Ministry of Culture in Sofia in a release.

It notes that the President-Director of the Louvre Museum Jean-Luc Martinez has suggested that the next Bulgarian exhibition in the Louvre should be on “The Age of Bulgarian Tsars, 9th-13th century”, in order to display for the European public Christian art masterpieces from medieval Bulgaria.

(The height of the First Bulgarian Empire (632/680-1018 AD), both politically and culturally, was in the late 9th and early 10th century (also known as Bulgaria’s Golden Age), while the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD) saw the peak of its political might in the early 13th century, and of its culture in the 14th century (also known as the Second Golden Age.)

Martinez has noted that further into the future the organizing of a joint exhibition of Ottoman archives owned by Bulgaria’s National Library “St. Cyril and St. Methodius” in Sofia is also a possibility.

He has also stated that the Louvre is prepared to organize in Sofia an exhibition of Renaissance paintings from its collection during the Bulgarian Presidency of the European Union in 2018.

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Bulgaria’s Minister of Culture Vezhdi Rashidov (left) and the President-Director of the Louvre Museum Jean-Luc Martinez (right) signing a new five-year cooperation agreement. Photo: Ministry of Culture

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