Great women of Serbian culture in the House of Jevrem Grujic

Venue: House of Jevrem Grujic in Belgrade
Authors of the project: Branka Conić, Dr. Gordana Bekcic and Ruzica Opacic
Author of the installation: Ruzica Opacic
Time of holding: January 20th, 2022 – March 27th, 2022

How much do we know about the path to freedom and independence?


“I graduated from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Zurich and passed my doctorate as a doctor of medicine, surgery, midwifery, and eye diseases, which I prove with the attached diploma. Based on this, I ask the Minister to give me permission to practice in Belgrade. And, if I need to fulfill any other condition, I ask Mr. Minister to just order, and I will fulfil it.”

This is how Draga Ljocic wrote in order to get a work permit as a doctor. She got a job in the civil service, but even then, she couldn’t be more than a medical assistant.

The first Serbian student. The first Serbian woman doctor. At that time, there were only a dozen women doctors in the whole of Europe. She was one of them. She did not have the right to work despite her top education: she did not have the right to vote, despite her persistent struggle for equality.

Why does the whole world know about Frida Kahlo, but we couldn’t allow our Milena Pavlovic Barili to teach fine arts in her own country?

“For three days now, the Bloomsbury Gallery has been filling the world. This is one of the most successful individual exhibitions of Yugoslav artists in London”, once wrote Belgrade’s newspaper “Vreme”. In the world – people would admire her authenticity, in our country – she has been driven away because of it.

Why was it that the first solo exhibition of Nadezda Petrovic was met with disapproval and criticism by her own people? “It takes time for everything, and a little longer for educating the audience”, said the Serbian painter who brought expressionism and symbolism and contemporary art of the highest values to our soil. And, although it is undoubtedly not less valuable, why is her patriotic heroic commitment during the First World War always asserted as admirable and respectable, but her own art is not treated the same way?

Finally, how many of her paintings do you know?

Why is Mina Karadzic always first mentioned as the daughter of Vuk Karadzic, then the inspiration of Branko Radicevic? Why don’t we give her name the credit that it clearly deserves, so that when we begin to talk about her, we first say that she was an exquisite painter and a writer, whose portraits testify about her time better and with more detail than any historical data?

Why did Jelisaveta Nacic die poor and banned in Dubrovnik in the middle of the 20th century? The first Serbian woman architect and one of the first women employed in the public-school sector. If you have ever passed by Elementary School “King Peter I” in Belgrade, and we believe that many have, you have witnessed the first modern Serbian school building.

Guess who designed it?

If it weren’t for Soja Jovanović, there would be no Ckalja as we know him. The first Serbian woman director, she proved her talent in both theatre and film. When going to the Kalenic market, maybe every day, do you pay attention to the plateau dedicated to the director who directed the first Yugoslav colour feature film – “Pop Cira and Pop Spira”?

We could surely go on like this. However, we hope that this text is enough for you to ask yourself: “Why don’t I know more about Poleksija Todorovic, Beta Vukanovic, Maga Magazinovic, Ljubica Maric, Anica Savic Rebac, Zora Petrovic, Desanka Maksimovic, Ljubica Cuca Sokic, Leposava St. Pavlovic, Vidosava Kovacevic?”

The Serbian woman had to be a top painter, writer, journalist, poet, composer, philosopher, choreographer just to be given a chance to fight for her place in society. She had to be combative, persistent, patient. Unfortunately, she also had to be humiliated, excommunicated, ridiculed.

The time has come for her to be appreciated, respected, and remembered.

Today, we must persevere so that this fight is not in vain. We must be united in our determination not to allow the names of this great woman to fall into oblivion.

House of Jevrem Grujic stood out as a place where you could visit the excellent exhibition “Great Women of Serbian Culture”.

The sponsors of the exhibition are the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia, the Secretariat for Culture of the City of Belgrade, and the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality.

The partners of the exhibition are the Belgrade City Museum, The Memorial Collection of Pavle Beljanski, “Milena Pavlovic Barili” Gallery, “Nadezda Petrovic” Art Gallery, SANU Gallery, SANU Musicological Institute, Museum of Theatre Arts of Serbia, National Museum of Valjevo, “Svetozar Markovic” University Library, “Desanka Maksimovic” Endowment, Galleries X Vitamin, HQ and B2, private collections, as well as Matica srpska and “What a Woman!” project.

Maybe you were busy with work, or you don’t live in the capital? If for any reason you have missed this unique exhibition, we hope you will enjoy its virtual tour. You can go through the interactive 360​​° walk whenever you want, from any location on the or you can download our mobile app on your play store and enjoy it on your phone.