Bulgaria opens Socialist art museum

A woman walks past a sculpture of the founder of the Soviet state Vladimir Lenin in the sculpture park of the newly opened Museum of Socialist Art in Sofia September 19, 2011. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria opened a museum of Communist-era art in capital Sofia on Monday as the small Balkan country tries to lure foreign tourists and benefit from their interest in life under a totalitarian regime which collapsed in 1989.

Prime Minister Boiko Borisov, city Mayor Yordanka Fandykova and many ministers attended the opening ceremony of the new venue.

“We are closing one page of the Bulgarian history and communism is going where it belongs -- in the museum,” Finance Minister Simeon Djankov was quoted as saying by state news agency BTA.

“Bulgaria has already shaken it off and is moving forward.”

The museum has a collection of exhibits -- paintings and sculptures ranging from 1944 to 1989 -- linked with the age of Communism in the Balkan country.

Busts of former Communist leader Todor Zhivkov, Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin and Soviet dictator Josef Stalin are on display in the museum which also boasts a sculpture park with 77 exhibits.

Earlier this month, hundreds of Bulgarians celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of the country’s long-serving dictator Zhivkov and the new museum will most probably also attract locals pining for the old days under communism.

Initially, the new venue was to be called museum of totalitarian art but the name was later changed to avoid possible controversy.

Reporting by Irina Ivanova, editing by Paul Casciato