On the occasion of 100 years of the Ilinden Uprising, a decision was made by the Ministry for Culture of the Republic of Macedonia in 2003/4 for a Memorial Museum to be built in the village of Smilevo.
The Museum of Bitola was tasked with preparing a survey for a permanent museum exhibition of memorial character. Covering an area of 130 m2, a museum exhibition was set up, consisting of the following thematic entities:
- Memorial hall of the Smilevo Congress 1903
- Smilevo in the Ilinden Uprising
- Memorial hall of the life and revolutionary deeds of Dame Gruev
- Memorial hall of the Partisan detachment Dame Gruev
- Ethnology hall about Smilevo
In the Congress hall there is a text, which acquaints the visitor with the contents and the significance of Smilevo, as well as exhibits of more than 27 photos of the members of the Congress and detachments.
Some 20 documents present the protocols of the Congress, fragments of the Uprising Discipline Constitution, portraits of the members of the Headquarters, the copy of the flag of the Bitola Revolutionary District. In one of the glass cabinets there are two rare original items: the revolver of the Smilevo leader Vele Iliev Penco and a bomb made in one of the village foundries existing in Smilevo at that time. This room is arranged in the manner of the Congress Hall.
As a separate part of this museum, the village Smilevo is presented through the portraits of several Smilevo leaders, as well as photo documents about the counter-offensive and its consequences in the village. The weapons used at that time are also exhibited in two glass cabinets.
The memorial room of Dame Gruev contains more than 30 photos and 14 documents, some of them exhibited for the first time and unknown to the public; such as the Minutes book from the trial of Dame Gruev, unknown letters from Dame’s own archive, etc. In this room there is a glass cabinet housing the book about the history of Smilevo and about the life and work of Dame Gruev.
There is also a commemorative room of the Bitola-Prespa detachment “Dame Gruev” focuses on his first military action undertaken on the 1st of August 1942 in the village Smilevo. The main goal of this action was to prevent the Bulgarian occupiers from holding their meeting in the village. In this room of 20 square meters, around 50 photos and documents are presented, which enable us to follow the course of the revolutionary actions in the village Smilevo in the period between the two world wars, presenting the leaders from the village and from this region, the economy of the village and the presentation of the military actions of the partisan detachment “Dame Gruev”.
The weapons of the partisans and other military items are also exhibited in three glass cabinets.
In the ethnology room there is a presentation of the material cultural heritage of the village of Smilevo, such as the national folk dress like bridal dress, older women’s attire and man’s attire.
According to its characteristics these examples of national dress belong to the Mijak-Debar attire and count as the most distinctive folk attires. Another segment of this presentation is the household, presented by the built-in cupboards, fireplace, low table, trunk used in common life. All these presented items are from Smilevo.
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