Interactive museum exhibition recreates traditions in Bulgarian village of Chavdar

2019-10-22   |

Folklore is the great intangible heritage of our people; it is so diverse and specific for different parts of our country that it is worth to be known by every Bulgarian. The idea for reenactment of folk customs and holidays should not only serve as an attraction for foreign tourists, but reach a growing number of Bulgarians. In the village of Chavdar, near Sofia, the first ever interactive center for authentic folklore has been created. The exhibition involves modern visualization tools, interactive installations, computer games, and reenactments of everyday life scenes from the village.

The center includes both a restored old house and a new building with two exhibition halls, as both buildings are in harmony and complementing each other. Experts say the museum is innovative and does not leave the viewer passive, but actually offers an opportunity for having fun in the field of folklore.

Preparation of the project in the village of Chavdar took three years. The initiative came from the local community center “Nadezhda” and mayor of the municipality Pencho Gerov. The community center wanted to have a representative stage and the municipality supported the project because it has the potential to attract tourists to the village.

“The most impressive and motivating thing for me as an ethnologist and folklorist was the enthusiasm of the local people, as well as the excellent cooperation between the municipal administration, the community center and all the people in the village,” says Assoc. Prof. Dr. Vanya Mateeva:

"Despite the big number of difficulties that the municipal administration had overcome, this folklore center is a fact. I would point out the help of the people in Chavdar in order to realize the joint project. These qualities are the basis for preserving the intangible heritage of this region. Despite changes in lifestyle over time, traditions here are alive and preserved by the community.”

The first stage was designing the new building, so that it could be added to the already existing house with typical rural architecture from the region. Next to it in the yard we created an exhibition hall, which we had to design without any idea what the exhibits would be, Architect Kristina Stefanova recalls:

"We were attracted to the challenge of creating a new tourism product in Bulgaria. Work on the whole process was a unique experience – from changing the detailed layout plan, to restoring the old building and creating a new interactive exhibition. We managed to preserve one of the rooms in its authentic looks and we restored the old well in the yard. We are proud to have built the first energy efficient public building here in Bulgaria. The structure consists of a reinforced concrete skeleton with different insulation layers, while the whole building is encased in a sheet of metal. We kept warm friendly relations with all people in the village and the volunteers who assisted creating the center. This was the most important thing as the people of Chavdar recognize the new tourist site as part of the village and they would love it and preserve it."

The center in the village of Chavdar, designed by the team of Arch. Kristina Stefanova, is the winner of the Audience Award at the 2018 WhATA Awards.

English: Alexander Markov


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