There are a few places in Slovakia that can boast of such richness of historical sights and movable items of historical value like Bardejov. Among other things, this is also due to the fact that this territory used to be an important transit area. Since Ancient Times, influences from the West, the East, the North and the South have met and intertwined there to an extent not seen anywhere else in Slovakia. In the course of centuries, a specific living environment, characterized by multiculturalism, multiethnicity, and multireligiousness has formed. The area has also been a contact zone of two big world cultures: the Western, Roman one, and the Eastern, Byzantine one, which overlap there. Bardejov belongs to the easternmost places influenced by the Late Gothics (St. Edigius's Church).
In contrast to that, local Eastern Rite wooden churches are bearers of the Byzantine culture. It is therefore logical that in the environment of such a cultural, ethnic and religious diversity a lot of precious artistic and historical sights have been preserved.
The Šariš Museum in Bardejov has played an important role in the preservation, protection, and presentation of these sights. In terms of the size of its collections and the results of its professional work, it far exceeds the borders of the region and it is ranked among the most significant institutions of its kind in Slovakia. It also belongs to the country's oldest museums.
An idea to create a museum appeared as early as in 1897, but the museum itself was opened only a few years later, on 21st December 1903, as the Museum of the Šarišská župa (Šariš County). Dr A. Vass, Principal of the local grammar school, became its first Director. The collection of material for the museum started already in 1903, particularly thanks to K. Divald, V. Miškovský, A. Vass, and G. Žebrácký. In a short time, almost 3,000 pieces of valuable museum objects were collected. The first, historic display (focused on the history of Šariš), was opened on 23rd June 1907 in the local Town Hall. The displayed material had been donated or lent by various, mainly religious institutions and organizations. It survived the two world wars without major changes. Re-installations of the display took place in 1954, 1967, and 1991.From its beginnings, Šariš Museum struggled with financial and personnel problems. The years between 1907 and 1950 saw only minimal growth of its collections and no research was done. The years between 1914 and 1918 were marked by an effort to move its most significant exhibits to a museum in Budapest. At the end of the Second World War, the retreating German Army took interest in the collections as well. Thanks particularly to G. Žebrácký, the exhibits stayed in their original place.After 1945, the museum started to specialize in the national history and geography, focusing on the documentation of the development of the nature and society in the districts of Bardejov, Giraltovce, Stropkov and Svidník, from the Stone Age to the present. Starting from 1950, it concentrated on the documentation of the Bardejov Town Reserve.
The museum currently documents historical, natural and social situation in the Upper Šariš Region. It secures nationwide documentation of Eastern Rite icons. It manages an extensive collection of more than 700 000 museum items. For this wide-range activity, the museum gradually obtained, besides the historical Town Hall, some other buildings as well: at Radničné námestie (Town Hall Square, building No 13), Rhodyho ulica (Rhody's Street, houses No 4 - 6 and 27), Rákoczi Villa with land in Bardejovské Kúpele (Bardejov Spa), and two lent bastions. It currently manages 34 buildings (besides the objects in its open-air museum).During its many years of experience, the Šariš Museum has had deep impact on the development of the Slovak museum activities and has become an integral part of the cultural life of Bardejov and the region. The museum, with its precious historical, national historical, geographical, natural scientific and artistic exhibits, belongs to those ones in Slovakia that are highly popular among the domestic as well as foreign visitors. This is also proved by the number of visits of the museum's displays. Annually they are seen by about 60,000 domestic and foreign admirers.
The Šariš Museum is one of the oldest ones in Slovakia
Its artistic, historical and natural collections belong to the most valuable ones in Slovakia
The Museum of Folk Architecture, managed by the Šariš Museum, is the oldest open-air museum in Slovakia
The Šariš Museum provides nationwide documentation of Eastern Rite icons