The Central Commission

On New Year’s Eve of 1850, the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph approved the establishment of the Imperial-Royal Central Commission for Researching and Preserving Monuments. The state thus assumed the leading role in preserving monuments. The Central Commission classified monuments as movable or immovable, after the reorganisation in 1873 extended the sphere of work to include archives and introduced three sections: I (archaeological), II (art), III (archival). The institution was centrally organised, and selected honorary conservators, correspondents and construction officials to work in the field. Representatives of municipalities, schools and churches were invited to participate. It provided for the preservation of art monuments and archaeological sites, promoted interest in researching monuments, supervised the art market, supported the work of associations and scientists, provided for the collection and publication of expert materials, and issued regulations and operational instructions. It also provided technical support for renovations carried out by municipalities, associations and ministries. Towards the end of the 19th century, restoration began to be developed within the Central Commission, and monuments were included in urban planning. Since the institution was not sufficiently effective at implementation, it was reorganised again in 1911 under the influence of Alois Riegel and Max Dvořák. In order to create a practical service, the monarchy established provincial conservation offices, while the expert supervision and scientific work of systematically studying monuments remained centralised. Slovenian territory was covered by monument preservation offices in Pula, Graz and Ljubljana. The management of the latter was taken over by the apprentice France Stelè, who was a conservator for Carniola and clerk for Carinthia. When the office opened on 1 July 1913 in Ljubljana, it was the only one on Slovenian territory. Until then, work had been done in Vienna, but when the new office was established, the documentation of the monument service remained in Ljubljana.

The INDOK Centre’s documentation also includes originals from the archives of the Central Commission. They are usually labelled with a stamp or the number of the corresponding act. The records contain 173 plans, approximately 400 photographs and three folders of conventional archives. When and how these documents came to be in the INDOK Centre archives is not really known. After the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed and the Treaty of St. Germain was signed, Stelè, who was familiar with the archival holdings in Vienna, advocated the return of the acts, plans and photographs. He made a list of sites on the basis of which the clerks in Vienna then made a list of material to be returned. Franjo Baš and Pavle Blaznik made another list of photographs and plans in 1949 in Bundesdenkmalamt in Vienna in order to obtain copies. Certain materials at the INDOK Centre can be associated with this list, but there is no information about the transfer. At the inter-state level, negotiations on the return of archival holdings began to bear fruit in 1975 on the basis of the Archival Agreement between Austria and Yugoslavia of 1923 and the protocol between FLR Yugoslavia and the Republic of Austria of 1958. The Archives of the Republic of Slovenia took over the holdings of the Imperial-Royal Monument Office with the fourth transfer, which took place on 22 December 1979. These conventional archival holdings with some rare photographs include 30 archival boxes.

The first honorary conservators in Slovenia were appointed in 1856: Anton Codelli for Carniola, Peter Kandler for the Slovene Littoral, Gottlieb Ankershofen for Carinthia and Josip Scheiger for Styria.

Conservators of special note with regard to the analysis and comprehensiveness of their publications were: Franc Avsec, Konrad Črnologar, Josip Dostal, Ivan Franke, Johannes Graus, Arnold Luschin, Josip Mantuani, Ignac Orožen, Avguštin Stegenšek and Ivan Šubic.

Magda Miklavčič Pintarič