The National Museum of Contemporary History in Ljubljana opened its permanent exhibition called “Slovenians in the 20th Century” in 1996, after several years of professional preparation. The exhibition, which is spread over eight halls (462.7 m² of exhibition space), presents the most important events and processes intertwined with the way of living and working in the territory of Slovenia from the beginning of World War I to the present day.

The exhibition is intended to create awareness and trigger an emotional response in each and every visitor, and to enable visitors to find answers to their own questions through the diverse range of objects presented in the museum.


The twentieth century was one of the most turbulent periods in the history of Slovenia. During this period, Slovenia was under the rule of many different countries and forms of government. It survived two World Wars, participated in the technology revolution and, in 1991, after the Ten-Day War, Slovenia gained its independence and became a sovereign state.

This political and social framework serves as a basis for the exhibition narrative which takes visitors through a cavern from World War I to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, telling personal stories and experiences from World War II and continuing into the period of socialism, post-war killings and the industrialization of the economy in the former common state of Yugoslavia. The exhibition takes visitors on a journey through the political turmoil and democratic endeavours in the 1980s to Slovenia’s acquisition of independence in the 1990s and life in the independent Republic of Slovenia. It ends with Slovenia’s entry into the EU and Slovenia’s Presidency of the EU in 2008.

Since 1996, the permanent exhibition has been modified and expanded a number of times.

We aim to keep pace with the changing social processes that shape our historical view of the past, so we frequently modify and expand the exhibition, adding new stories and testimonials of life in the 20th century.