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29 September 2023

Preserving History: Manaki Brothers' Archival Collection Declared Cultural Heritage in North Macedonia

In a landmark decision, the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia, on 30 August 2023, bestowed a prestigious honour upon the Brothers Manaki-Bitola Collection (1853-1964). This collection was declared a cultural heritage of particular significance. It comprises the photographic legacy of the Balkan's first filmmakers Yanaki and Milton Manaki and is located amongst the stacks of the State Archive of the Republic of North Macedonia's Bitola Department.

Portrait of Manaki brothers, standing in three piece suits and wearing straw boater hats

This announcement marks the culmination of work that began in May 2022, initially by the leadership team at the State Archive and then continued by a dedicated team at the Bitola Department. It has involved contacting key stakeholders responsible for the preservation, organisation, and processing of the collection.

The importance of this archival material cannot be overstated. It contains the complete photographic material as well as personal documentation of the Manaki family, which has never undergone the process of full digitisation. The photographic material contains more than 7,000 glass negatives, over 3000 rolls and sheet films and in excess of 10,000 original prints, produced at the end of the 19th century up until Milton’s death in 1964. The photographic collection is one of the most extensive covering the Balkans.

With this important decision by the Government, the "Brothers Manaki" collection carves its place in history as the first national case of declaring archival material as cultural heritage. This recognition heralds a new era in how we evaluate and cherish archival and cultural activities associated with the Manaki Brothers' legacy. It reinforces our commitment to preserving the "Brothers Manaki" and all its contents, ensuring the allocation of resources for its proper preservation, organization, digitisation, research, and presentation.

This recognition not only honours the legacy of the Manaki Brothers but also underscores the nation's dedication to preserving and celebrating its cultural heritage. It sets a precedent for acknowledging the cultural significance of archival collections and emphasises their central role in safeguarding and sharing a nation's heritage.

Notification supplied by the EAP1470 team.