Kulpin Museum Complex
The Museum in Kulpin comprises the nucleus settlement from the second half of the eighteenth and the first half of the nineteenth century. This compound of buildings consists of two mansions with extra facilities, built by the members of the noble Stratimirović family, encapsulating the gardens, the old school building, the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Parochial House. Although historically not belonging to the same epoch, the Slovak Evangelical Church, built between 1875-1879 as well as the house where Patriarch Djordje Branković was born, subsequently reconstructed in 1899 to become a Serbian religious school, are also part of this complex.
The settlement, once situated on the grounds of the today’s Kulpin and its vicinity, occurred in historical sources as early as in the 13th century. Hungarian King Bela (1235-1270) donated it as a present to the Posh family. The Hungarian sources mention it in the 14th and 15th centuries, under the names Kurpee and Kwolpi. In the Serbian sources, the toponym Kulpin first occurred as one of the venues ruled by Djuradj Branković, in the first half of the 15th century. Some data also prove that Kulpin was a settlement during the Ottoman rule.
Bogić Vučković Stratimirović
The settlement was left barren after the Peace Treaty of Karlowitz (1699), when these territories got liberated from the Turks. In 1745 Empress Maria Theresa donated it to the Vučković-Stratimirović Serbian family, originated from Herzegovina, for their military merits gained in the war against the Ottomans. During the Austro-Turkish War, in 1737, the Stratimirović brothers - Bogić, Tomo, Ivan and Nikola – initiated an uprising in Herzegovina. The then Serbian Patriarch, Arsenije Šakabenta IV Jovanović, called the Serbian rebels from the Serbian mountain tribes with the Arbanasi-Klimentes to provide military support to Austria. They clashed with the Turkish army near Novi Pazar, Sjenica and Nova Varoš. The superior Turkish troops forced the Austrian army and the rebels to retreat. Fearing Turkish reprisals, Patriarch, along with his escort and people, set off to the north. Rebels from Herzegovina also took part in this so-called Second Migration. In the autumn of that same year, the two Stratimirović brothers: Bogić and Ivan set off to Vienna with Prince Alex Miličević. Their intention was to convey a message to the king from the people of Herzegovina, saying that they were willing to help Austria with 30,000 lads in the war against the Ottomans. With the help of Count Herberstein, military commander in Krajina and Croatian Ban Joseph Esterhazy, they were received by Emperor Karl VI. As the proof of this proposal, they subsequently obtained and handed over a "Statement" approved by Herzegovinian Parliament and representatives, signed by 42 prominent Herzegovinian leaders. Among other requests, there was one asking Austria to send military troops to Herzegovina. The War Council accepted this offer. At that point, however, it was not possible to send troops. Turkish troops were entrenched along the Sava and the Una rivers, therefore, Bogić and Ivan, with other Herzegovinian refugees, joined the Austrians in waging war against the Ottomans in the area of the Military Border. The war ended with the Belgrade Peace Treaty in 1739, which definitely confirmed the Sava and the Danube rivers as the border between Austria and Turkey. Since Bosnia and Herzegovina stayed within Turkey, the Bučković-Stratimirović brothers approached Empress Maria Theresa with a plead to let several hundreds of families from Herzegovina settle down permanently in Austrian territory. The Empress accepted their plead and granted a noble title to the family. By a Charter, issued July 17th 1745, she donated Kulpin to them with 10,000 „jutro“ (1 jutro - about 3acres) of land. The Stratimirović family kept 3,200 jutro of land. Each brother got 800 jutro, and the rest of the land was, excepting the meadows, divided into 80 "sessions" and further divided up into halves or quarters and awarded to recently settled down families, except that each of the two brothers was eligible to harvest tithes from his 20 sessions. It is believed that at that time about 200 families moved from Herzegovina and settled down in Kulpin.
Serbian Orthodox Church
The Stratimirovićs built their houses on the edges of a large meadow- called the Valley. At first, the houses were small and temporary, but later on, big mansions were erected. One of them was located where Slovak Evangelical Church building stands now. The so called small mansion (from the second half of the 18th century) and the big mansion (kaštel), built in 1826, have been saved from those times. On the opposite side of the valley, across the street, the Orthodox Church, the Parochial House, the Serbian School and the Municipal Hall were built.
The Orthodox Church was erected between 1809-1813on the grounds of the former small stave church. The church was dedicated to the Ascension of Jesus Christ (the feast known among the people as Ascension Day), decorated by a beautiful iconostasis, the work of a renowned artist Jovan Kljajić (1846-1862). The churchyard is now the burial site of several members of the Stratimirović family.
While raising the settlement, the Stratimirović family got indebted soon following their settling down. In 1756, by an agreement, they relinquished the right of collecting revenues from the lease for the period of 10 years, transferring this right to Baron Frano Brnjaković. This was the year that appeared in documents as the beginning of settling in of Slovaks in Kulpin. Today, Slovaks make the majority population in this settlement.
Michal Harminc (1869-1964), a famous Slovak architect, and Felix Kutljik (1883-1954), a publicist and businessman, originated from this region.
The Stratimirović family yielded to posterity several prominent and educated individuals. Among them, the most outstanding ones were Stefan and Djordje Stratimirović. Stefan Stratimirović, Karlovac Metropolitan (1790-1836), was the spiritual and ideological leader of the Serbian people in the Hapsburg Monarchy for a couple of decades. With skilful and perceptive policy, he supported the Serb liberation struggle during the First and Second Serbian Uprising against the Ottomans. He gained merits for establishing the first Serbian high school (1791) and the first Theological Seminary (1794) in Sremski Karlovci (Karlowitz), the high school in Novi Sad (1810), the Teachers’ College in Sentandreja (Szentendre ) (1811), along with icon painting colleges and several other educational and cultural institutions.
Djordje Stratimirović (1822-1908) was the commander of the Serbian army in the revolution of 1848/49. The Serbian people’s struggle aimed at gaining national rights within Austria resulted in Serbian - Vojvodina. Djordje actively served in the Austrian military from 1849 and attained the rank of Major General. On behalf of Austria, he served diplomatic missions in Montenegro, in Corfu, in Epirus, Serbia and Italy.
The manor and major part of the estate were bought from the Stratimirovićs by Matej Semzo od Kamjanike. This Hungarian family was managing Kulpin estate only for a short time. They sold the estate to Lazar Dundjerski in 1889.
The Dundjerski family had been managing the estate up until the end of WWII, more precisely, until 1945. Lazar, with his son Djordje, contributed a lot to the development of agriculture. Beside Kulpin, this family also owned large estates in Čeb (now Čelarevo), Kamendin, Bečej, Crna Bara and Hajdučica. The family also owned mansions in Budapest and Novi Sad. In their homes, including Kulpin mansion, they often hosted renowned public figures coming from the cultural and political sphere. The large mansion was refurbished in 1912, after Momčilo Tapavica’s design, who was an architect from Novi Sad. The estate was confiscated from the famlily, under the provisions of the Agrarian Reform and Colonisation Act. The Communist Government in the Democratic Federative Yugoslavia limited the allowed landholding maximum to 30 jutro (1 jutro-3 acres). Territories of land beyond this limit were confiscated and nationalized. By collecting properties from landlords, banks, churches and other real estate owners, a vast area of land became state owned and as such, it was divided up among those, who had not possessed any land, or it was donated to new settlers, who were either planted in from backward areas of the then Yugoslavia, or arrived from territories devastated by war activities. This action resulted in significant transformations regarding agrarian and ownership relations in Vojvodina.
Following the Nationalization Act, an agricultural cooperative farm was set up at the Dundjerski family’s estate in Kulpin. This cooperative farm was managing the mansion with its extra facilities up until 1991, when the Agricultural Museum commenced managing this complex.
The complex with its both mansions, the park and the ornamented fence have been declared protected venues within the state’s cultural heritage patronage. The complex has been recognized as an outstanding cultural monument by the Vojvodina Autonomous Province Assembly.
The Agricultural Museum
Despite the fact that Vojvodina is prevailingly an agricultural area, the idea of establishing an agricultural museum arose relatively lately and it has come about with difficulties, taking up a long time.
The then government did have the intention to create a museum network in Vojvodina, whereby the initiative for founding an agricultural museum was launched for the first time back in 1948. At that point, the Educational Council and Agricultural Council within the Supreme Executive Committee of the Autonomous Region of Vojvodina signed an agreement on the issue of exempting the Collection from the recently founded Vojvodina Museum and founding a separate Agricultural Museum, under the “management and patronage” of the Agricultural Council. This agreement, however, never got implemented, because the Agricultural Council could provide neither the funding nor facilities for the museum. Therefore, the collection stayed within Vojvodina Museum.
The issue of the Agricultural Museum was put on the agenda again in 1959, following the exhibition called “Agriculture and Farming Cooperation in Vojvodina in the Past and Today”, organized by the Association of Agricultural Cooperatives in AP Vojvodina and the Cooperation Archive in Novi Sad. No results, however, came about. Although the Museum was founded and started operating in 1960, its further development soon turned out to be uncertain. Due to the lack of basic working conditions, the Museum had to close up as soon as in 1962. The museum collection was first handed over to the Cooperation Archive, and in 1966 it became the possession of the newly founded Regional Environmental Institute.
The issue of the Agricultural Museum was reconsidered in 1979. This time, the initiative was launched by the Vojvodina Agricultural Technique Association, actually by several fans of vintage agricultural equipment and a few agrarian companies. The same year, the Association organized an exhibition on vintage agricultural machines at Novi Sad Fair, joining the International Exhibition of Agriculture in Novi Sad. The same exhibition was repeated several times over the following years.
Eventually in 1991, when the collective farm in Kulpin stopped operating, an open competition was announced for leasing the mansion with its extra facilities. The Novi Sad Faculty of Agriculture applied for this competition proposing that the complex should be presented to the would-be Museum of Agriculture. The Executive Council of the AP Vojvodina supported the idea and approved on the initial funding aimed at the renovation of the complex, in order to make it suitable for housing an agricultural museum. Unfortunately, the idea of founding an agricultural museum did not come about at that point either. Instead of an independent museum collection, the Agricultural Museum in Kulpin started operating as a non-governmental organization. The statutory general assembly was held on January 20th 1993, when the Statute of the Museum was approved on. The same year, the entire museum collection, formerly in the possession of the Vojvodina Agricultural Technique Association was relocated to Kulpin from Novi Sad and was given to the Agricultural Museum.
Over the following years, the restoration of the facilities and the gradual completion of the permanent collection was going on, with the support of the Museum of Vojvodina and Novi Sad Faculty of Agriculture. The following exhibitions have been displayed until now: the history of hop gardening, wheat growing, broomcorn, hemp, dairy farming, cattle breeding, hog raising and sheep raising.
Since 2004, the Agricultural Museum has been operating within the Museum of Vojvodina as a department. The latest major reconstruction works on the large mansion were carried out in 2009, the same year when the exhibition of period furniture was displayed.
The big mansion or the kaštel is the central building within the complex. It was erected in the early 19th century. According to some data, the construction works were completed in 1826. By that time, the Stratimirović family had become larger and had obtained great reputation among the Serbs in the Hapsburg Monarchy. Both mansions were erected by the second and third generation of this family, already born in Kulpin. They added the Kulpinski surname to their family surname Stratimirović, while they completely abandoned the Herzegovinian Vučković surname. The new generations of the Stratimirović family yielded a few prominent individuals, engaged in different professions. The most prominent among them at that time, certainly was Stefan Stratimirović, who was head of the Metropolitan of Karlovci, between 1790 and 1836.
The appearance of the mansion before the reconstruction 1912.
No data are available as who the designer and constructor of the mansion might have been. An old photo - postcard preserved the original appearance of the mansion. The building was thoroughly reconstructed in 1912, when the property was in the possession of the Dundjerski family. The reconstruction works were carried out by Momčilo Tapavica, a famous architect from Novi Sad. The biggest change was carried out on the roof. The hexagonal tower, which was once erected on the roof and dominated the building was removed from the central part. Originally, it was a watch tower with a big clock and appropriate mechanism, the application of the Stratimirović family’s coat of arms and many other decorative details. The quadrilateral roof was transformed into a roof with two slopes, while a decorative frieze was put on the frontal part with ornamented rectangular boxes and vases on the corners.
This reconstruction did not substantially changed the original architectural features of the building. The mansion has retained all the hallmarks of the Classicistic style in which it was originally built.
In this region, constructors of mansions and landowners’ villas from the end of the 18th and early 19th century, generally followed the usual rules of the Classicistic style. This style is characterized by "simplicity, clear parsing, the impression of monumentality and a touch of charm“. In the frontal part of the building, by rule, an entrance porch would be designed, the so called portico. In Kulpin, the portico is right in the middle of the mansion, thus the facade is divided into two identical sides. It was built in the typical Classicistic style. It consists of a staircase, access ramp and four pairs of ionic pillars, carrying the architrave and pediment.
On the back, there is a pent angular entrance porch with circular openings on the sides. Above the porch, there is a spacious terrace, surmounted by a dome. It is accessible from the drawing room on the first storey. The terrace provides a unique and striking view on the park and its surroundings.
The interior of the mansion is also built in the Classicistic style. The drawing room, connected with two rooms, one on the left and one on the right side, is accessible directly from the spacious foyer. A long hallway provides accessibility to other rooms in the mansion.
The construction material matches the style of that particular age. The walls are of brick. Stone was used for the portico columns, as well as for the stairs and floors in the interior of the mansion. The outer and inner walls are covered with lime mortar, and the roof was originally covered with special round shaped tiles. On the roof, there were symmetrically arranged openings: three from each side of the portico, and two chimneys. Later reconstructions introduced some changes on the roof: in addition to the two slopes, the roof got a new cover with eternit plates.
The last comprehensive repair works on the roof, the facade and interior, took place in 2009. It was then, when the collection of period furniture was displayed in the mansion.
The collection of period furniture in the Museum of Vojvodina has been systematically accumulated, ever since 1955. As soon as in 1961, the first furniture exhibition was displayed at the Museum. In 1967, the Museum earned the right to dispose and use the manor at Čelarevo with its complete furniture, so the collection became remarkably enriched, thus an appropriate space could be obtained for the exhibition. In late 2009, this collection was transferred to the mansion in Kulpin, and displayed there. This exhibition contains items covering the period from the early 18th to the first half of the 20th century.
The small mansion is a single-storied villa built in the late eighteenth century. It was one of the family houses belonging to the Stratimirović family. It has preserved its original appearance. Just as the large mansion, it was also built in the Classicistic style. The central part of the front is embellished with a rizalit (step-out), ending with a triangular tympanum. The rizalit divides the facade into two symmetrical parts. On the back of the house, there is a spacious rectangular porch with arched openings. The windows and the entrance gate are decorated with bars and details made from wrought iron.
Given the fact that the mansion is an outstanding cultural monument, it would be reasonable to expect some initial steps regarding its revitalization in the near future. The space will be rearranged for an exhibition dedicated to the Stratimirović family, being the foundation of Kulpin settlement their merit.
The early exhibitions on the history of agriculture were displayed in the former wheat storehouse. Refurbishment of the premises for housing permanent exhibits started immediately after the foundation of the Museum. Back in the nineties, in the 20th century, several thematic exhibitions were organized on three levels. By their contents, conception and museology aspect, they make up a unique entity showing how the dominant agricultural branches were developing in this part of the world.
The authors of the exhibitions were experts coming from Novi Sad Faculty of Agriculture, Institute of Crop and Vegetable Growing, as well as the Museum of Vojvodina.
The premises in the basement of the pavilion were adapted into a would-be mini-brewery. A small, traditional brewery plant has been planned within the Institute for hop growing, where beer would be brewed in a showroom, available for visitors to taste. The brewery would operate on a commercial basis, but basically, it would also perform as a complement to the exhibition displaying hop growing and it would illustrate the beginnings of the brewing industry.
Pavilion 2 is an auxiliary facility, typical for large estates in Vojvodina, dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth century. In the past, this building served as a horse stable, a blacksmith’s shop, a workshop and also as a carriage shed. It is unknown whether its purpose has been changing through history or not, or when it was built exactly, but it is certain that at the time when the Dundjerski family was managing the estate, the building did wear the present shape and did have the above mentioned functions. Several original items have been preserved from that period, which are now displayed at the permanent exhibition: a forge with blacksmith’s bellows and lathe.
The building was refurbished in 1993, for the Exhibition of Agricultural Machinery and Tools, immediately after the Museum had moved in. The attic contains a depot, whereas the ground floor is arranged to display the permanent exhibition.
The display was rearranged and small construction repair works were carried out at the end of 2009 and at the beginning of 2010.
The estate building was situated in the center of the farm complex. Landowners used to own houses in Novi Sad, Budapest and even in Vienna. Mansions on the estates served as summer dwellings. Estate stewards would have managed the estate, and they would have spent the whole year on the estate, just as the servants.
The central building at Kulpin estate included the steward’s and servants’ premises and the warehouses for agricultural products. The high attic space sheltered the wheat, while in the basement, which was as large as the entire building, food and other necessary staff was kept.
After WWII, when the estate was nationalized to be turned into an agricultural cooperative, the estate building still kept its previous function, but a part of the basement was turned into a central heating boiler room, whereas the rest of the space was adapted into a kitchen and a restaurant. After the Agricultural Museum Complex had moved in, the museum administration staff worked there for a while. One part serves as a depot. The cellar, where once the restaurant used to be, is now used by the Women’s Association of Kulpin as well as by the Museum, for various training programs. Regarding plans for the future, an educational center with boarding capacities will be set up in this building, once the reconstruction works are completed.
The park was designed about the same time when the mansion was built and this is obvious from the layout of the main building, the trees and the lawn. There are no documents left from which one could restore the original appearance of the park, and the name of the designer is unknown either. The designers of the garden, apparently, wanted to create a natural scenery around the mansion, usually practiced at that time. In front and behind the mansion, large grassy areas were planted to emphasize the monumental appearence of the building. The park covers an area of about 4.5 hectares.
At the time of the construction of the mansion, i.e. back in the thirties of the nineteenth century, English or landscape parks were fashionable in this region. Unlike the French style, dominant up until the mid eighteenth century, meaning strict, geometrically designed avenues of trees and paths, landscape parks were arranged with lots of side paths, lawns, similar to green pastures. When the mansion in Kulpin was built, English landscape gardens were very popular in Hungary. Dissertations were written on them and their owners competed in collecting and planting rare trees and plants. Seedlings were brought in from distant, exotic parts of the world to complete the collections. Although no precise data are known today as what sorts of trees exactly were originally planted, the park in Kulpin undoubtedly bore all the features of the age in which it was planted, including a rich collection of dendrologic plants.
The park has undergone significant changes over the time. The greatest changes occured after the reconstruction of the mansion, in 1912. The park was partially re-faced in 1994, after the Main Horicultural Project, created by Milan Sapundžić, in 1992. This project provided some elements of the French garden style, particularly apparent in the frontal part of the large mansion. After a review, experts from the Serbian Nature Protection Institute found that the appearance of the park had changed a lot and that it needed protection. Regarding the types of trees, the park is today dominated by trees of the western Celtis Australis sort, maple and mulberry. Almost each and every dendroflora is covered with ivy giving a distinctive look to the treetops.
A section of the park with an old traditional countryside house situated in the farm yard of the complex, will present the countryside-like construction style along with some objects of rural culture. Taking example from open-air museums, objects typical to rural households in Vojvodina would be on display, including the interior. In cooperation with the Provincial Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, a grain barn from 1847 was transferred from Stapar and placed in the park. The building was constructed from good quality timber, richly carved and well preserved.
Once the reconstruction is completed, a Serbian and a Slovak room will be furnished in the ethnic cottage to illustrate rural dwelling style. Serbs and Slovaks are two Slavic nations close to each other, living in Kulpin for centuries. Beside their language, they enriched this region with a whole range of cultural characteristics, reflecting the way they dressed, reflecting their customs, housing, food, etc.
This is the section of the museum compound where the authors intend to revoke the revival of some old crafts and manufacture craftsmanship. At the museum souvenir shop, such products will be offered to visitors. In co-operation with some local associations and the Municipal Tourist Agency, the Museum has introduced several cultural and tourist events, such as for example: The Festival of Wine and Home Made Sausages, Traditional Wedding Party, Slovak Feasts, Bread Festival, Art Colony and others. By this as well as by a wide range of programs organized jointly with the local municipality, the Agricultural Museum in Kulpin is right on its way to transform into a modern eco-museum.