site.btaDonors, Cultural Institutes and Administration Contribute to Development of Bulgaria’s Only Museum of Photography
Donors, local photographers and all other cultural institutions have helped a lot for the development of the first and only Museum of Photography and Contemporary Visual Arts in Kazanlak. The support of the administration was important, Museum Director Stefan Papukchiev said in an interview with BTA. His name will be inscribed in the honorary book of Kazanlak on the city's holiday, June 2, during a solemn session of the Municipal Council in the hall of the Art Gallery and the Iskra Museum of History.
The museum was founded in 2015, and people from all over Bulgaria came to the opening, Papukchiev said. Donations started even before the opening, and the first donor was lawyer and writer Stefan Saranedelchev. "He donated an ancestral book he wrote about his aunt Donka - the first female photographer in Kazanlak. At the moment we also have her camera," said Papukchiev. He noted that the donated exhibits are not only from Bulgaria.
At the moment, the Museum of Photography has about a thousand cameras and over two thousand photos, more than half of them are quite old. "We have an 1860 photograph of the Troyan daguerreotype, of which there are only two or three in Bulgaria," the Director said. Among the museum's exhibits is the oldest camera produced in Bulgaria, as well as Nikola Vaptsarov's camera and photos taken with it. "We have the only lens left from the first television camera, we also have a very rich library of about 900 volumes, projection equipment and a number of other rare exhibits," said Papukchiev.
Papukchiev was born in 1952 in Kazanlak and completed his higher education at the Faculty of Physics of Sofia University. From 1976 to 1980 he worked as a teacher and in 1987 he graduated in engineering in Gabrovo. "I got interested in photography when my father bought a camera and I started developing pictures at home. That was around 1957," he said. Later, at the Faculty of Physics in Sofia, he had the opportunity to work with some of the most advanced spectroscopes in the world at the time. After his return to Kazanlak, he joined the Iskra Photo Club as an amateur and subsequently won a number of national and international photography awards.
Papukchiev is also the author of a number of publications. He is the co-author and layout designer of the book "Rose Festival. Kazanlak" in 2017 and the publication "50 years of the Queen Rose" in 2018. Together with his sister Margarita Papukchieva, they are the authors of the book "Sir Ivan Papukchiev KdB - Life and Memories". She participated in the selection of the photos and layout of the pages of the books by Lilia Dimitrova and Veselin Shivachev.
Papukchiev is the initiator of the publication of the album "Our Kazanlak", which was presented within the programme of this year's Rose Festival. "The idea of compiling the album came about four and a half years ago and immediately met the support of Mayor Galina Stoyanova. It took time to promote the idea, but at some point Kazanlak residents from all over Bulgaria started bringing their own photos, cards and memories," he said. The album is a visual chronicle of Kazanlak and reveals different aspects of life in the town over the years. Over 250 people have donated around five thousand photos. "We selected 1,500 of them, and 900 found a place in the album," said Papukchiev. The photos in the publication are spread over 520 pages and tell the story of life in Kazanlak since the beginning of the last century. Among the oldest postcards included in the album is one from 1892, depicting a celebration of the 300th anniversary of the birth of John Amos Comenius.
Papukchiev is also the co-author and designer of the new edition "Queen Rose", which is to be presented at the Rose Museum on June 3. "We managed to track down absolutely all the queens and runners-up, we managed to find sketches of the designs of the dresses, the crown, as well as information about those who went to France and Japan," he said, adding that four of the chosen ones are not among the living.
Papukchiev is the founder of the charity foundation "Oasis", which until 2008 carried out projects such as Soup for the Poor, Bulgaria Is My Homeland, and the Children at Risk photo contest.
The decision to inscribe his name in the Book of Honour of Kazanlak was taken by the local Municipal Council in April 2023 at the suggestion of Mayor Stoyanova, who defined him as a personality who contributed to raising the prestige of Kazanlak at national and international level.