Remarks at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Republika Srpska in Banja Luka

It is always a pleasure to visit Banja Luka, particularly when I have the opportunity to mark a step forward in our partnership. Today, I am here to celebrate the award of 255,000 KM from the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation to the Museum of Contemporary Modern Art of Republika Srpska.

The U.S. Embassy and the Government of the Republika Srpska agree: this institution is a cultural treasure worthy of investment. Thank you to President Cvijanovic and to the RS government for providing investment that nearly doubles our contribution and making this a partnership to improve the facility.

This project fulfills an ambitious vision, and I congratulate the director of the museum, Ms. Sarita Vujković, and her staff for their impressive work developing a proposal strong enough to win among stiff global competition. Čestitke od srca!

This is a wonderful museum with a well-curated collection and a focus on community development. Sarita and her team know that museums aren’t just buildings to house collections. They should be gathering places for conversation and hubs for community interaction.

To fulfill that purpose, grant funds will be used to adapt areas in the museum for use as a public art library, the first of its kind in BiH. Repair and renovation of the roof of this late 19th Century building will also protect the collection.

Through the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, we have collaborated on nearly twenty projects to restore culturally and historically significant monuments across Bosnia and Herzegovina since 2001 totaling over $2 million.

Among them are the beautiful Ferhadija Mosque; Šeranić’s House here in Banja Luka; Restoration of the Orthodox Church of St. Basil of Ostrog in Blagaj; Restoration of a late 16th-Century Bridge over the Žepa River in Rogatica; the restoration of National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina; and several other projects.

But this museum is Bosnia and Herzegovina’s best contemporary arts museum, distinct from museums whose mission is to connect citizens to the past. This museum connects citizens to today’s ideas and trends, and opens new perspectives for the future.

The United States is a forward-looking country, and the partnership we offer is firmly based on helping citizens and this country progress toward a brighter, more prosperous, just and secure future. Today’s grant is but one example.