The influence of enlightening ideas
At the turn of the 19th century, a time when national consciousness and the movement to free Serbia from centuries of Ottoman occupation was gaining power, Serbian intellectuals in the Habsburg Monarchy accepted the cultural and organizational norms and values that were spreading under the influence of enlightening ideas in Europe of the time. In 1824 Letopis (Chronicle) was first published and in 1826 Matica Srpska was founded. Members of Matica Srpska strived for the presentation of Serbian culture to the world and, at the same time, for the enlightenment of the people. The goal was to rejoin the trends of contemporary Europe as well as to maintain national identity thereat.
Honorees, benefactors and associates
Like in a beehive everybody had their roles. The Presidents, Vice Presidents and General Secretaries of Matica Srpska, who were elected from the most esteemed individuals, were given the honor of running the most significant Serbian institution. Wealthy citizens supported the mission of culture and enlightenment of Matica Srpska realized by numerous associates.
The Vision of Sava Popović Tekelija
A special contribution to the development of Matica Srpska, along with Jovan Hadžić, one of its founders, was given by Sava Popović Tekelija, the first Serbian Doctor of Law and one of the most important benefactors, who was elected for its president in 1838. As a follower of enlightening ideas he advocated that Matica Srpska should receive the same attributes as the Serbian Academy of Science. He believed that the social elite gathered around it should work on the enlightenment of the people, whereas the people should guard the memory of distinguished individuals. In his will Tekelija specified that one of the rooms in the Tekelijanum Palace in Pest, under the government of Matica Srpska, was to be transformed into a kind of Serbian Pantheon modelled after the Hall of Fame in Paris.
The Pantheon of Matica Srpska
Tekelija’s idea about the forming of the Pantheon was never officially taken into consideration, however Matica Srpska has spent decades collecting portraits and manuscripts of its presidents and benefactors. In this manner a collection has been created that represents an authentic testimony about the influence of members of the intellectual elite and the middle class on the development of Serbian society.
There are about a hundred portraits of honorees, benefactors and associates, several dozen thousands of photographs, letters and other documents in the Marija Trandafil endowment building, where the headquarters of Matica Srpska is located today. A significant portion of this corpus is included in the electronic data bases of Matica Srpska.
Matica Srpska as the Serbian Pantheon
Matica Srpska does not treasure the memory of its honorees, benefactors and associates only. It has been the guardian of the collective memory of other significant individuals as well for almost two centuries now. Several dozen projects are worked on in the seven scientific departments of Matica Srpska. Some of those are of crucial importance for the creation of the so called personal history of the Serbian people: the Serbian Biographic Dictionary with 28,000 biographies and the Serbian Encyclopedia that contains information about numerous individuals, institutions and events. Documents that give testimonies about the lives and works of the most esteemed Serbs are conserved and processed in the Manuscript Department.
Ten scientific journals are published by Matica Srpska. Amongst other things, information about writers, scientists and others who made a mark on Serbian history can be found in them.
The Library of Matica Srpska has approximately 3,500,000 publications including many with biographical data about prominent individuals.
Numerous portraits are exhibited in the Gallery of Matica Srpska. The experts of the Gallery of Matica Srpska care for dozens of others that are not included in permanent exhibitions.
Matica Srpska has unofficially become a Serbian Pantheon of a kind.
The Open Door of Matica Srpska
The endowment building of Marija Trandafil, where the scientific departments, the Library of Matica Srpska and the Pantheon of Matica Srpska are located, is open for individual and group visits of employees of cultural and scientific institutions, diplomatic representatives of foreign countries, pupils, students and their professors.
The permanent exhibition of the Pantheon is comprised of portraits, a collection of the most important documents and the Secretary General’s Library with legends in Serbian and in English. Data bases with detailed biographies of presidents and benefactors of Matica Srpska as well as selected biographies from the Serbian Biographical Dictionary can be accessed through computer terminals (touch screen).
Group visits are arranged with the Office for Protocol and Public Relations of Matica Srpska. Visits to scientific departments and the Library of Matica Srpska can be organized for all those who are interested.
The Gallery of Matica Srpska is open to the public on workdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The realization of Tekelija’s vision
The suggestion to form the Pantheon was given by the Secretary General of Matica Srpska Professor Dušan Nikolić, PhD, in late 2008, on the 170th anniversary of the election of Sava Tekelija for the president of Matica Srpska. The project was realized in 2010 with financial support from the City of Novi Sad.
The following people contributed to the shaping of the Pantheon: Tijana Palkovljević MA manager of the Gallery of Matica Srpska; Dragana Beleslijin, expert associate of Matica Srpska; Aleksandra Jovanović, expert associate of the Manuscript Department of Matica Srpska; Vukica Tucakov, technical editor of the editions of Matica Srpska; Andrej Kalmar, interpreter; Vladimir Šovljanski, lector and corrector; Aleksandra Stefanov, curator of the Gallery of Matica Srpska; Vladimir Nikolić, expert associate of the Manuscript Department of Matica Srpska; Mirjana Isakov, designer; Miroslav Zarić, IT, Ljubomir Borđoški, electrical engineer, supervisor of public lighting; Danilo Vuksanović, conservator from the Gallery of Matica Srpska and Saša Kulić, economist in Matica Srpska.
Služba za protokol i odnose sa javnošću
Ulica Matice srpske 1
21 000 Novi Sad
Phone: 021 527 855
Fax: 021 528 901