Is the capital of Bulgaria getting close to home its own private Louvre?

❖ The building permit to transform a great listed building in the center of Sofia known as the Telephone Palace, into an extensive private museum is officially issued by the Chief Architect of Sofia Metropolitan Municipality Zdravko Zdravkov.
❖ Vassil Bojkov Collection is the largest private collection of Thracian treasures and artifacts that will be put on display at the museum.

The complete renovation of the great listed Telephone Palace into a private museum finally begins. Earlier in July, Zdravko Zdravkov, Chief Architect of Sofia Metropolitan Municipality, officially issued the building permit, which came into force a little bit later on July 29t h. The license allows for a reconstruction of the building, transformation of the roof into a mansard floor and construction of an underground parking facility so that more people can visit the museum.

It is pointed out in the approval documents of the investment project that the total space the building encompasses is 13 400 square meters, with an underground area of 3,000 square meters. In the plans, however, it is outlined that the reconstruction will also include widening of the underground space with additional 4.5 meters. the most prominent non-profit organisation in Bulgaria that has the goal to promote and preserve the cultural and historical heritage of the country. The grand project arouse the interest of some of the most respected names in the art world. The building was recently visited by Jeffrey Spider, the chief curator of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

With a potential to be turned into one of the most visited places, the reconstructed Telephone Palace will include several gallery halls. They will host all types of expositions – from modern-day art displays in the form of paintings to exhibitions of artefacts and other rare archaeological discoveries. One of the biggest and most prominent exhibitions will be of relics from the famous Vassil Bojkov Collection. It comprises over 3000 artefacts dating from the 8th century BC to the 6th century AD and is considered the most extensive private collection of ancient rhytons and other priceless treasures. Small part of the impressive collection was shown last year in the exhibition ‘ ‘The Golden Fleece. The Quest of the Argonauts” which was available to the visitors for 3 months d uring # EuropeForCulture. The mission of the organisers was to raise awareness and encourage participation from all European countries in the development of national identity through ancient heritage.

Aside from the artefacts from Vassil Bojkov Collection in the museum visitors will be able to enjoy plenty of original paintings, statues, and sculptures created by famous artists during different periods. It is also expected that world known exhibitions and artefacts will be hosted by the private museum.

This month will mark the opening of a new laboratory with ultramodern equipment for examination and restoration of archaeological ancient arts and other valuable works. The Experts from Thrace Foundation will be able to perform a thorough analysis of the core of different artefacts, thus, unlocking significant information about their background and nature.

Set to bring together history, art, culture, and technology, the private museum will be the first of its kind at the Balkans. Not only will it be a cultural place but also an educational centre for children. It will offer plenty of technological marvels such as holograms, media presentations, and lectures. They will provide a richer and more in-depth experience of Bulgaria, its archaeological treasures, historical events and much more. Everyone will be able to learn in a new and interactive way, looking at artefacts in 3D format, visiting places of the past, and meeting some of the most interesting civilisations such as the Thracians.

The scale of the museum is often compared to that of the remarkable Louvre in Abu Dhabi, which many refer to as “a sanctuary for the most valuable works of art.” The ambitious goal of the project is expected to lay the basis for a whole new experience of everything cultural, historical, and artistic, scoring significant international outreach.

The telephone Palace is one of the most iconic buildings in Bulgaria. Its construction began in 1938 and was completed in 1949. It is an architectural and historical monument, and because of this, any change to be made requires further approval and discussion with the National Institute for Real Estate and the Ministry of Culture. The architect of the building is Stancho Belkowski – prominent representative of modernism in native architecture.

Established in 2004, Thrace Foundation is the largest non-profit organization in Bulgaria with the primary goal to preserve and promote any ancient art, cultural value, and antique treasures of the country. The foundation also supports many institutions and individuals who work in the same area and collaborates with governmental and non-governmental organisations, educational and scientific institutions. Plenty of archaeological excavations are also funded by the organization.

During the same year, Thrace Foundation Publishers was also established. Its main activities are related to distributing scientific literature, related to the Bulgarian cultural and historical legacy and its preservation.

Considered the biggest and most impressive private collection in the world, the Vassil Bojkov Collection includes more than 3000 rare archaeological finds. Among some of the pieces are a good number of bronze, silver and golden items, metalwork, adornments and harness parts, various household utensils. There are also antique weapons, and all kinds of vessels with inscriptions, symbolic representations, figures of Greek Gods and/or heroes and mythological scenes. Although some of them are with unknown provenance, others are known to have been produced in workshops across the Middle and Near East, Anatolia, Laconia, Corinth, Ionia, Western Greece, Thrace, Scythia, Macedonia, the North Black Sea steppes and others. Different exemplars from the Vassil Bojkov Collection have been put on display in many museums and art galleries across Bulgaria and different foreign cities, including Brussels (2006) and Moscow (2009).

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