National Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve “Niasvizh” wins a Europa Nostra Award 2016

The National Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve “Niasvizh” in Niasvizh has received a Europa Nostra Award 2016 in the category Dedicated Service. The public announcement was made today by Europa Nostra, the leading European heritage organisation. The Europa Nostra Award is presented to outstanding achievements from European countries not taking part in the EU’s Creative Europe programme. This award-winning achievement from Belarus will be honoured – together with this year’s winners of the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards – at a ceremony to be held on 24 May in Madrid, Spain. The renowned opera singer and President of Europa Nostra Plácido Domingo will co-host the European Heritage Awards Ceremony.

National Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve "Niasvizh", Niasvizh, BELARUS
The Awards jury was “impressed by the momentous work which was carried out by the National Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve “Niasvizh” in implementing a museum in the newly renovated Radziwill palace in just six short months. The renovations and the task of installing a whole museum was not an easy undertaking because of the relative remoteness of the location as well as the damage and neglect that the building had suffered for decades. The museum’s ability to maintain public interest and outstanding visitor numbers of approximately 400,000 annually are also praiseworthy for this same reason”. The installation of the museum was a huge project and spanned over 30 exhibition halls with 20,000 exhibits.

The National Museum organises and hosts 10-14 exhibitions annually, including international travelling exhibitions many of which have been organised in collaboration with some of the largest and most influential museums in the world. The renovations, the re-opening of the museum to the public and the efforts made to gain international prominence in the cultural sector have greatly benefited the region. This is attributable to the steadfast work of the museum workers.

The curators and researchers were faithful to the National Museum’s past in preserving this monument and in addressing the site’s legacy. Notably, the museum reached out to the previous owners of the building, the Radziwill family who had owned the estate since the early 16th-century with the present palace having been completed between 1599 and 1604. The Radziwill descendants now reside in the United Kingdom following the exile of their family from Niasvizh at the beginning of World War II. Fostering a relationship with the family’s descendants afforded the museum researchers the opportunity to access their personal archive, thus augmenting the experience of the visitors to this elegant castle and ensuring that its rich history is preserved along with the structure.

The Awards jury acknowledged the sensitivity with which the National Museum dealt with the palace’s complicated past.“The museum workers did a great service to their museum in being inspired by the legacy of the Radziwill family. The compassion that they showed this family, almost one hundred years after they had been exiled from their home, is admirable and shows the strong European cultural roots of the house in this part of the world. These museum workers have gone above and beyond the duty of their roles and for this reason they should be considered an example to others working in this field”, the jury noted.

It is the second time that an accomplishment from Belarus has received a Europa Nostra Award. The rehabilitation and conversion of the Mir Castle in Mir into a museum won a Europa Nostra Award in 1993.

The winners of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards 2016 – which is presented to projects from European countries taking part in the EU’s Creative Europe programme – were also announced today.

The European Heritage Awards Ceremony will take place on the evening of 24 May at the historic Zarzuela Theatre in Madrid. Around 1,000 people, including heritage professionals, volunteers and supporters from all over Europe, will participate in the event. The winners will present their remarkable heritage accomplishments during the Excellence Fair on the morning of 24 May at the headquarters of the College of Architects of Madrid and participate in various networking events to be held during the European Heritage Congress in Madrid (22-27 May) organised by Europa Nostra in the framework of its network project ‘Mainstreaming Heritage’, which has the support of the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

Joana Pinheiro
Europa Nostra Communication Officer
+31 70 302 40 55

Elena Bianchi
Europa Nostra Heritage Awards Coordinator
+31 70 302 40 58

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