This is the 9th Annual Museum Night in Serbia and it's gotten bigger each year. In the capital, 70 museums and galleries open their doors to the public from 6pm until 2am and at least 100 exhibitions, performances, events happen in and around them. It's not just a Belgrade thing - about 65 different cities in the country take part in the one-night-only event. The idea is to promote culture and get people in the doors of museums. In this part of the world, the best way to get anyone to do anything is to make it an all night party, of course! It's kind of like the visual equivalent of a music festival (which Serbia also happens to know how to do very well).
We bought our tickets from the Cultural Center that afternoon and spent a long time staring at the guide that came with it - a little worried about being able to find Museum Night. But when we stepped out our door, Museum Night found us. Even though my mom told me never to do this, I got in the back of a stranger's van. This was outside of Radio Belgrade, which had set up a mobile recording studio (said van) for the festivities. Where there weren't traditional "museums," other things popped up. Happenings occurred.
All night long, people stood on line outside of the Princess Ljubica house for their turn to get in. One large man in a suit checked tickets at the gate, another manned the entrance allowing a handful at a time to cross the threshold before abruptly closing the door once more. It was like the konak was transformed into a club. Something about the scene just felt so.... Belgrade. I mean, one of the most famous alternative clubs here is located in the basement of the university's Electrical Engineering Faculty building. It's a certain, unique brand of cool.
As the evening turned to night into late night into early morning and businesses on Knez Mihailova turned off their lights, the galleries between them looked bigger. Unmissable. I can't say I noticed this art museum any of the dozen times we walked right past it. They became a lot like those stars everyone was taking a turn to look at. Bright, white reminders of what is always there and always worth exploring.
Author's Note: In case you were wondering, we'd already titled another post Night at the Museum.