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First recorded sports exhibition in Slovenia

1922 was the year when the first sports exhibition in Slovenia was officially recorded: the so-called Sokol exhibition was held in the premises of the then Ljubljana secondary modern school. The same decade saw a number of smaller and larger exhibitions of Sokol and other sports societies, as well as Sokol expert consultations on heritage in sport. Mountaineers were also active and organised at least two exhibitions. As early as 1925, an overview of Slovenian sport was presented at the Ljubljana Fair.

Razstavljene zastave Ljubljanskega sokola v Narodnem domu leta 1913. Fond Fakultete za šport.
The flags of the Ljubljana Falcon, exhibited in the National House in 1913. Fund of the Faculty of Sport.

The war halts the development of sports exhibitions

In the 1930s, many sports exhibitions were part of larger exhibition activities – the Ljubljana Grand Fair or the Maribor Week. There were exhibitions on sports and also on diving, gliding, and scouting. The Sokols and the Scouts also continued their exhibition activities. In 1932, after travelling to Zagreb, an independent winter sports exhibition was also held in Maribor.

Pokali z neznane razstave s 30-ih let 20. stoletja. Fond Fakultete za šport.
Cups from an unknown exhibition from the 1930s. Fund of the Faculty of Sport.

The first initiative to establish the Museum of Physical Education for Slovenia

In this period, there were fewer sports exhibitions, i.e., the progress and development of exhibitions came to a standstill because of World War II. However, Sokols and mountaineers continued their exhibition activities. They were joined by model builders or sports gliders and philatelists, who organised one of the first exhibitions of physical education and sports stamps in Tolmin in 1949. Another important year was 1945 when the Physical Culture Committee of Slovenia decided to establish a museum of physical education for Slovenia. At the same time, all physical education associations were asked to donate sports-related heritage objects. Unfortunately, the museum was never established. In the same year, the College of Physical Education in Ljubljana began collecting heritage objects and storing them in its library.

Kljub nemirnim časom je bilo v 40-ih letih mogoče zaslediti posamezne razstave povezane s športno dediščino. Foto: Svetozar Guček.
Despite the turbulent times, it was possible to see individual exhibitions about the sporting heritage in the 1940s. Photo: Svetozar Guček.

Sports heritage is included in museum collections

This decade saw a slight increase in the number of sports exhibitions. There was a revival of sport-related exhibitions as part of trade fairs and other major exhibitions. Mountaineers and (sports) philatelists also remained active and even expanded their exhibition activities. Scouting and water sports exhibitions were a novelty in this decade. In the 1950s, objects belonging to the sports heritage also became part of the museum collections of established museums (the Slovenian Ethnographic Museum).

Kolesarska razstava kot del športne razstave iz 50-ih let. Fond Fakultete za šport.
Bicycle exhibition as part of a sports exhibition from the 1950s. Fund of the Faculty of Sport (Slo).

New exhibitors join the traditional ones

The growth in the number of exhibitions of sports heritage and sports content continued throughout the decade. Mountaineers and (sports) philatelists tirelessly exhibited their work and heritage. They were followed by the scouts, and the physical education associations and organisations also awakened to a great extent. In the 1960s, the Maribor Regional Museum also began to include objects related to Slovenia’s sporting past in its collections. In this decade, exhibitions were extended by several new sports disciplines. The range of exhibitions available included an exhibition of school and youth sports, a pioneering exhibition of sports photography and drawings, and a visiting exhibition of hunting and sport in British prints.

Rast športnih razstav v 60-letih vztraja. Fond Poleta.
The growth of sports exhibitions in the 60s continues. Polet Fund.

Boom in sports exhibitions

The 1970s saw a real boom in exhibitions and presentations of sports, sports history, and sports heritage. As in the 1960s, mountaineers and mountain climbers were the most active. They were followed by athletes, and physical culture workers and organisations. Scouts and philatelists also held many exhibitions, often joined by collectors of badges and sports memorabilia or sports associations using their collections to showcase their activities and successes or to celebrate their anniversaries. Official and established institutions, such as the College of Physical Education, the Slovenian Ethnographic Museum, and the Slovenian School Museum, also continued to collect, exhibit, and popularise sports heritage. New disciplines and methods joined the already established or even traditional ones. Among the new disciplines introduced in the 1970s were football, athletics, harness racing, partisan ski racing, shooting, the Olympic Games and motorsports.

V 70-ih letih so tudi uveljavljene muzejske in druge ustanove pričele ali nadaljevale z zbiranjem in ohranjanjem (slovenske) športne dediščine. Fond Poleta.
In the 1970s, established museums and other institutions also began or continued to collect and preserve (Slovenian) sports heritage. Polet Fund.

Initiative to establish the Museum of Slovenian Physical Culture

The exponential growth of sports exhibitions continued during this decade. In the 1980s, mountaineers and alpinists continued to lead the way, becoming even more active in the field of exhibitions, and increasing the number of exhibitions. Fewer exhibitions, but still more than in the 1970s, were organised by physical culture (education) workers and organisations. The Scouts again secured third place in the number of exhibitions. A larger number of exhibitions were also organised by various sports organisations and associations, which used awards and other memorabilia to show their past activities and successes, as well as by sports photojournalists, individuals and associations involved in (sports) photography. There was also an increase in the number of established institutions from various fields presenting sports heritage, such as the Ljubljana City Museum, the College of Physical Education Ljubljana, and the Technical Museum of Slovenia. The range of sports disciplines presented to the public through exhibitions continued to expand and now included handball, chess, (sports) aviation, volleyball, weightlifting and dance. In 1985, the growing exhibition activity in the field of sports heritage led to the idea of establishing a nationwide Museum of Slovenian Physical Culture. By 1986, the Museum had already secured premises at Poljanska cesta 6, Ljubljana, all the necessary documents and regulations had been drawn up, and a contract had already been signed with the first employee, but the Museum never became operational.

Število razstav v 80-ih letih se je povečalo tudi zaradi številnih razstav na temo ZOI 1984, ki so potekale v Sarajevu. Foto: Nino Mihalek.
The number of exhibitions in the 1980s also increased due to the many exhibitions on the theme of the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. Photo: Nino Mihalek.

Decision to establish the Museum of Sport and Olympism public institute

During this decade, initiatives to create or ensure the smooth operation of a national sports museum continued. Various discussions were held at all levels, various initiatives, visions, and ways of operating the museum were presented, and the name of the museum was proposed to be changed to the Slovenian Museum of Sport and Olympism in the future, but the national sports museum was not fully established by the end of the decade. In 1999, only a decision was made to establish a public institution, the Museum of Sport and Olympism. In the meantime, the activities of exhibiting the sporting past and collecting and registering objects of sports heritage continued uninterrupted.

Otvoritev olimpijske razstave leta 1995 v Mariboru. Spredaj levo Leon Štukelj in Miro Cerar, drugi z leve Marko Račič. Fond Marka Račiča.
Opening of Olympic exhibition in Maribor in 1995. Front left Leon Štukelj and Miro Cerar, second from left Marko Račič. The Marko Račič Fund.

First public presentation of the Sports Museum and formation of the permanent exhibition

In April 2000, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia adopted a decision to establish the Sports Museum public institute, which, in 2001, acquired its own premises at Kopitarjeva 4 (in the Dnevnik building). They were to be sufficient for the Museum’s office, storage and exhibition needs. As soon as the legal and formal procedures were completed, the Museum began to design and build its basic collection. After a successful launch and the beginning of collecting objects, the first public presentation of the Sports Museum followed in 2001 with the exhibition From fencer Rudolf Cvetko to cyclist Andrej Hauptman – from the first to the last Slovenian medal, which was held at the Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre. In 2003, the first permanent exhibition of the Sports Museum was installed on the premises on Kopitarjeva Street. The following year (2004), the Association of the Friends of the Sports Museum was established to provide moral support for the Museum’s continued work and existence. Throughout its existence, the Museum was plagued by financial, space and personnel problems. In addition, the search for suitable premises for the museum continued throughout the decade, but no progress was made.

Skromni začetki Muzeja športa. Leto 2002. Foto: Iztok Durjava.
The humble beginnings of the Sports Museum. Year 2002. Photo: Iztok Durjava.

The Museum is incorporated into the Planica Institute of Sports of the Republic of Slovenia

The search for suitable premises for the Sports Museum continued at the beginning of the decade. In 2013, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia adopted a decision to merge the Museum with the Planica Institute of Sports of the Republic of Slovenia. However, the merger had little impact on the Museum’s regular and exhibition work. In March 2016, the Ministry of Culture adopted a decision to remove the Sports Museum from the register of museums. Despite this decision, which was not very encouraging, the Sports Museum continued its work in pursuit of its goals. Moreover, in the same year (2016), the Museum contributed to the establishment, design, and realisation of a permanent exhibition at the Planica Nordic Centre. In 2017, the Sports Museum acquired new storage space in the Zalog district of Ljubljana, which already hosted the Slovenian School Museum and the Slovenian Ethnographic Museum. The search for suitable premises for all the other activities of the Sports Museum was ongoing but unsuccessful by the end of the decade.

Stalna razstava Muzeja športa je bila večkrat podvržena spremembam in dopolnitvam. Razstava leta 2016. Foto: Aleš Šafarič.
The permanent exhibition of the Sports Museum has undergone several changes and additions. Exhibition in 2016. Photo: Aleš Šafarič.

The Sports Museum becomes part of the Slovenian School Museum

With the implementation of a government decision in February 2022, the Sports Museum became an organisational unit of the Slovenian School Museum. In November, the Museum opened a (temporary) permanent exhibition entitled Collecting, Researching, Reviving: Sports Heritage and the Sports Museum in the Slovenian School Museum. To date, as far as space, financial and human resources conditions allow, the Museum continues to carry out regular and additional museum work, seeking to popularise the sports heritage, researching the past of sports, etc.

Kljub pomanjkanju razstavnih prostorov Muzej športa nadaljuje tudi z razstavnim delom. Razstava Muzej športa – varuh športne dediščine iz leta 2023. Foto: Aleš Šafarič.
Despite the lack of exhibition space, the Sports Museum continues its exhibition work. Exhibition Museum of Sport – Guardian of Sports Heritage from 2023. Photo: Aleš Šafarič.

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