Sadnikar's collection in Kamnik - 130 years
In 2023, we commemorate the 130th anniversary of Sadnikar’s collection in Kamnik, the first private museum collection in Slovenia that was accessible to the public.
It was founded by Josip Nikolaj Sadnikar (1863-1952), who as a young veterinarian came to Kamnik in 1889, where he worked until his retirement in 1926. In 1904, he married Štefka Novak, and they had sons Demeter and Niko.
In addition to his professional veterinary work and exceptional collecting passion, Sadnikar was also very active in the social life of Kamnik. In 1927, he became a member of the collector association Kolektor in Kranj. He was also a passionate lover of art and photography and a patron of young Slovenian artists, especially Maksim Gaspari. He was friends with many Kamnik and Slovenian artists of his time. He inspired Franc Aparnik, later a professional Kamnik photographer, to take up photography. In 1937, the city of Kamnik awarded him the title of honorary citizen. Josip N. Sadnikar died in 1952 in Kamnik.
Josip N. Sadnikar already collected antiques in his student years, which must have been encouraged by the working environment of his father, who was a master of decorative brass items for church furnishings. Later, he acquired objects for the collection in various ways: as a gift or as payment for veterinary services, he exchanged them with collector acquaintances and friends, bought them from farmers, in churches, monasteries and castles, and at antique fairs. As a collector, he was interested in everything that was important to the past and in which the creativity of our ancestors was manifested. In almost 60 years of collecting activity, he collected more than 4,000 objects. He exhibited the collection in his house on Šutna in Kamnik, where he also lived with his family.
The initiative to open the collection to the public was given to Sadnikar by the Kamnik district head Georg Friedrich in 1893, when he wanted to show important visitors to Kamnik also historical sights. Over the decades, the collection has been visited by many visitors, who wrote down their impressions in the so-called i. golden book from 1893 until the 1950s. Among them we recognize famous crowned heads, Austrian, Yugoslav, Slovenian and also Kamnik politicians, businessmen, artists, castle owners.
In 1950, the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments issued a decision on the protection of Sadnikar’s museum collection. After Sadnikar’s death in 1952, an agreement was reached between the heirs and the institution that the museum collection, as private property, would remain in its current premises and continue to be accessible to the public.
In 1964, the municipality of Kamnik bought only a part of the collection, 1468 items, for the newly established Kamnik Museum. Objects were bought that were connected to the wider Kamnik area by their origin, use or location, and at the same time they were of high quality, interesting, narrative and important for local and Slovenian history. Within the framework of the museum, the so-called i. Sadnikar’s collection, which contains some of the most beautiful and valuable museum objects; like Dalmatin’s Bible, Pentateuch, Valvasor’s Glory of the Duchy of Carniola, Renaissance statues (guardians of the Holy Sepulchre), antique ring, guild jugs, house altars. Many items from this collection are on permanent and occasional exhibitions.
After part of the collection was purchased for the stone museum, the rest of Sadnikar’s collection remained in the family’s possession and is still accessible to the public. Štefka Sadnikar gladly took the visitors on a tour, later Gabrijela Žegarac, born Rechbach. The collection was inherited by the sons Demeter and Niko Sadnikar. Niko Sadnikar enthralled the visitors with vivid stories about objects, as well as about Kamnik and the people of Kamnik, which his father had entrusted to him.
Now the co-owners of the collection are Demeter’s son Demeter Jr. and Niko’s son Josip Marko Sadnikar. With the careful attitude of the Sadnikar family, members of both families, the collection is preserved and remains in the family, as its founder Josip N. Sadnikar wanted. Visitors can still view Sadnikar’s collection by prior arrangement at firstname.lastname@example.org (up to 10 visitors).