Fate of Mokranjac’s house in the 20th century was determined by its historical importance. During the processes of celebrating Stevan Stojanović Mokranjac and his legacy, between the two world wars, the place of his birth aroused interest in the public. In May 1934, on the basis of statements by private individuals, the first data about the composer’s birth house appeared. It was a completely dilapidated house in the town centre, which belonged to the family Cajić. In 1950, upon the invitation of the Museum management, a Belgrade architect Ivan Zdravković examined Mokranjac’s birth house, noted that it was ruined and recommended restoration and preservation from further deterioration. In June 1963, at the request of the Museum, Institute for protection of National Heritage sent an architect, Ivan Kostić, to Negotin to record the birth house of Stevan Mokranjac on video tape and collect the data for making the restoration plan for the house. As the house was completely ruined, the work included complete restoration, conservation and adaptation, in order to make the house functional. This project was undertaken to highlight the ethnographic importance of the original house, as a monument of residential bourgeois culture from the first half of the 19th century, since none of the similar residences still existed in the town centre.
The restoration began on 1st April 1964, and on 29th September of the same year it was already officially opened for visitors to mark the 50th anniversary of Mokranjac’s death. For that occasion, the memorial plaque was unveiled. The inscription on the plaque says: “This is the place where Stevan Mokranjac was born and where he spent the first days of his childhood”. Mokranjac’s son, Momčilo, and his nephew, Vasilije Mokranjac, were also among the first visitors. Four hundred visitors visited the house during the day. In November of the same year the Museum council made the decision to purchase the house from the owner Cajić Mihailo, a teacher from Bor, for 300,000 dinars, while the other part of the house was bought in June 1968, and works on conservation and restoration lasted from May to September 1969.
The house is characterized by modest features of a traditional Balkan town residential home. The ground floor originally housed the basement lined with stone, while the upper floor, designed for living, was built in wooden framed structural system, and it consisted of two rooms and a kitchen. It has a gabled roof covered with roof tiles. Major work on the refurbishment of the complex around the Mokranjac’s house in Negotin was undertaken in the period from 1980 to 1981 according to the project by Milorad Vojinović, an architect of the Institute for Protection of National Heritage in Niš.
The museum display is placed on the first floor. It occupies four interconnected rooms. The exhibits are arranged in a way that enables the visitors to make the most of their visit. The house has two entrances with porches and a fireplace (odžaklija). The large porch leads into the largest room in the house. There are panels on the walls which show a short biography of the distinguished composer, the work of Zoran Josić. The exhibits illustrate the life, work and society in which Stevan Mokranjac lived and created his works. Displayed documents, correspondence, photographs and personal items were kindly and considerately given to the Museum for safekeeping by his family – for the next generations to rediscover Mokranjac’s life and work from the first day to the end of his life. Also, part of the permanent exhibition is the memorial room to Momcilo Mokranjac, the son of the famous composer. The biography of Momcilo Mokranjac – a well-known chemist, toxicologist, and professor, is presented on the panels. Exhibited documents, correspondence, and personal items lead you through the life and work of Momcilo Mokranjac from his early days to the end of his life.
While the visitors browse through the house of Stevan Mokranjac they can hear the melodies of Garlands and Liturgy played in the background leading them into the composer’s world and making their impression richer and more powerful.
There is a bronze statue in front of the house, the work of Nebojša Mitrić. The statue was laid and ceremoniously unveiled on 20th September 1980.
Since 1966 Negotin has had a traditional annual Choral Music Festival The days of Mokranjac, (Mokranjčevi dani) in memory of the great composer. The festival is not just another in a line of many musical festivals in Serbia, nor is it a mere wish of the town to have a ceremony. The idea of organizing an event like this arose with the need of the hometown of our great composer to express gratitude for all he had done for our music. The first festivals coincided, both in time schedule and structure, with the famous Negotin Fair, one of the oldest and largest in Serbia, a three-day event from 21st to 23rd September, during the religious feast of Nativity. With time, “The days of Mokranjac” have become a separate event, which has grown from a national to an international festival. Start time and duration of the festival is different every year: it begins between 9th and 13th September and lasts for 6 to 8 days. Basically, the idea of the festival is to express appreciation for the composer, but also to encourage present-day creative strengths in the areas in which Mokranjac was either profficient, or which he marked. There are various concerts, book presentations, poetry evenings and the like at Mokranjac’s house during the festival. The content of the festival has grown in time, especially in the field of music, but also in many other accompanying events. Mokranjac’s hometown, the festival called after him, as well as the Krajina Museum which has its permanent role in the festival organization, can be proud of the fifty years’ period of the festival.
Besides during the festival, the birth house of Stevan Mokranjac is open every 9th January to mark the birthday of the famous composer. The house is open all day and the visitors are welcome to small commemorative concerts, academic panels, presentation of books and Mokranjac magazine…