The Department of History of the National Museum “Zaječar” was formed in 1951, in the same year in which the Museum itself was founded. Just like all departments of history in museums throughout former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the basic and often only task in that period was to cultivate liberation and revolutionary traditions, to which end the internal departments dedicated to the National Liberation Revolution and the National Liberation Struggle were formed. The collections of those two internal departments were uniform and only occasionally diverged from revolutionary heritage of the second half of 20th century. Similar situation befell this department of the National Museum “Zaječar”, although one historical event – The Timok Rebellion – has been attracting attention from the very beginning, so that at the very beginning two permanent exhibitions were formed: National liberation struggle in the Timok region and the Timok Rebellion of 1883, showcasing pamphlets, declarations, photographs and weapons.
On the occasion of marking the centennial of the Timok Rebellion, within a series of events, an external department of the Museum, the so-called “Old prison house” was also formed in Boljevac, in 1983, which is thematically dedicated to this event.
The milestone in the work of the Museum became certain at the beginning of 1990’s. The permanent exhibition was discontinued, after which the Department of History was left without its exhibition gallery, which continues even to the present day.
The collections faced revision conditioned by a time distance of half a century, accompanied by constant re-inventorying. The long neglected and forgotten objects, photographs and documents from wars of the beginning of the 20th century, as well as those from city life between the wars, although found only sporadically nowadays, are slowly filling in the collection.
In the last decade of the 20th century, in cooperation with the Archives of Timočka krajina, the increasingly intensive work is being done on the return of a prominent citizen, Nikola Pašić, into the Serbian national awareness. For this purpose, the Foundation “Nikola Pasic” was formed and a part of the Foundation’s collection, which is not showcased in the permanent exhibition of the Foundation, is being kept in the Museum’s Department of History.
At the moment, the Department has over 2,300 objects from the period between 19th and 20th century and are divided into collections: decorations, weapons and military equipment, photographs, documents, posters, uniforms, maps, flags, factory produced military-technical materials, stamps and foundation collections. The collections are also sorted by periods, namely: the period up to 1918, the period between 1918 and 1941, the period of the National Liberation Revolution and the period of post-war development.
The Curator-Historian in charge of the Department deals with the period of last decades of 19th up to the middle of 20th century. Although the Curator pays the most attention to the character and achievements of Nikola Pašić, she does not neglect the local history and, therefore, the following exhibitions were organized: the First evening of Sports Association “Soko”, 174 Years of Judiciary in Zaječar, Belgian railroad and the exhibition on the occasion of 90th anniversary of liberation of Zaječar in World War I. The exhibitions were organized in cooperation with the interested institutions, associations and individuals and were used to supplement the collections of the said themes, accompanied by catalogues and professional articles in the journal “Razvitak”.