The Institute of Art Studies’ history goes back to1947 when two scholarly units were established in Sofia: the Institute of Art Studies, directed by the prominent sculptor academic Ivan Lazarov, and the Institute of Music (with museum), directed by the notable composer and publicist academic Petko Staynov. Initially devoted to research on fine arts, the Institute of Art Studies extended its activities by including departments of theatre, cinema and television. The Institute of Music was found to stimulate research on musical folklore in Bulgaria. Over the years it also broadened its range of activities and developed studies on history and theory of music, musical pedagogy and psychology, musical theatre, ethnomusicology, medieval, art and popular music. In 1988 the two institutions merged under the name of Institute of Art Studies with four divisions: fine art studies, music studies, theatre studies, and film studies.
Nowadays the Institute of Art Studies keeps representing the only specialized research unit in Bulgaria that carries out studies on ancient, medieval and contemporary art and culture. Research priorities are focused on collecting and preserving art documentation as well as the analysis of art phenomena, both professional and vernacular, associated with the centuries-old Bulgarian legacy and its particular role in the construction of European culture. The Institute plays a central role in the development of art studies in Bulgaria, including by conducting doctorate programmes in all related disciplines and by organizing of scholar conferences.
It possesses rich photo (100 000 frames), textual (250 000 pages), audio (3400 tapes and 3800 records) and video (800 films and 200 videocassettes) archives consisting of unique data, and the library fund holds nearly 45 000 volumes, including rare editions published at the end of the 19th century.
The Institute’s publications includes the two quarterly journals Problemi na izkustvoto (Art Studies Quarterly) and Bulgarsko muzikoznanie (Bulgarian Musicology), two volume series Izkustvovedski cheteniya (Art Readings) and Izkustvo i kontekst (Art and Context), as well as catalogues, bibliographies, encyclopaedias, volumes and monographs.
The Institute cooperates with foreign academic institutions and organizations, and a number of its fellows are actively involved into international scholar projects.
Directors of the Institute of Art Studies
Acad. Ivan Lazarov (1948 – 1952)
Acad. Alexander Bozhinov (1952 – 1953)
Prof. Ivan Penkov (1953 – 1957)
Corr. mem. Alexander Obretenov (1958 – 1988)
Directors of the Institute of Musicology
Acad. Petko Staynov (1948 – 1977)
Prof. Venelin Krastev (1977 – 1988)
Directors of the modern Institute of Art Studies
Prof. DSc. Ivan Marazov (1988 – 1992)
Prof. DSc. Georgui Saev (1992 – 1996)
Prof. DSc. Elena Toncheva (1996 – 2004)
Prof. DSc. Alexander Yanakiev (from 2004 – )