The Gorenjska Museum’s new permanent exhibition Beautiful Gorenjska is on show in the renovated Khislstein Castle. It takes the form of a walk through time in twelve episodes on the first floor of the building and in the attic. The story of Gorenjska and its people is told through more than 1300 museum items, while the content of individual rooms is summarised by selected lines from Prešeren’s poetry and folk songs. The museum narrative is brought alive by soundscapes, photographs, and both documentary and dramatic films.
The Gorenjska landscape that we admire today was shaped over many millions of years. Glaciers and rushing waters carved out canyons, valleys and river beds, while lakes were also formed. But the oldest traces of humans in Gorenjska date back only a few tens of thousands of years.
The prehistoric settlements and burials sites of previous inhabitants have been discovered in many parts of Gorenjska. With the arrival of the Slavs, who intermixed with the indigenous people, the Slavic language prevailed. The wealth of ancient wisdom and customs coalesced, but old names of rivers and mountains were retained. Importantly, the skill of iron-making, which has been present in Gorenjska for 2800 years, was also retained.
Thanks to its forests, rich iron ore and iron-making skills, fertile fields and busy trade routes, Gorenjska (known as Upper Carniola in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries) was economically vibrant. Its sense of regional awareness and of Sloveneness is rooted in thriftiness, attachment to the land, faith and language. The exhibition Beautiful Gorenjska is a tribute to the region and its inhabitants. But it is also a call for us to have the determination to carefully preserve what we have inherited from our forebears.