What's hidden inside UBB’S vault?



ource: Night/Plovdiv blog http://www.night.bg/blog/?p=9167

On the occasion of its 25th anniversary, United Bulgarian Bank, together with Plovdiv Regional History Museum, exhibits for the very first time all valuable antiques from the Bank’s Fund. Unique typewrites and mechanical calculators, wall clocks, ink-pots and documents linked to banking are among the exhibits that will teleport visitors to the past and tell in a captivating manner the history of banking in Bulgaria. The exhibition is the result of almost 5-year effort on the part of the Bank’s employees, along with experts and restoration specialists, who made an inventory of, photographed and restored items from all branches of the financial institution. Ms. Anka Kostova, PR and Sponsorship Manager at United Bulgarian Bank and Mr. Stefan Shivachev, Director of Plovdiv Regional History Museum, share curious facts about the forthcoming exhibition.          

For the very first time you display the most valuable antiques from your Fund. What’s hidden inside UBB’s vault?

Ms. Anka Kostova: The exhibition Inside UBB’s Vault is a sequel to the exhibition of paintings and graphic works from the Gold Fund of UBB Collection, showcased during the last edition of NIGHT/Plovdiv festival, now touring around the country. UBB is a successor of 22 regional commercial banks and is also the first consolidation project in Bulgaria. That is how it became owner not only of buildings, but also of pieces of art, items and documents in evidence of the past decades, of the cultural and social milieu at that time and above all, of the banking spirit. 

The exhibited valuables add moments to UBB history, extending over a quarter of a century.

On 30 September 2017 our Bank celebrates its 25th anniversary and, not surprisingly, the anniversary is dedicated to 25 years of traditions and innovations as we dare say that UBB has achieved top results in many indicators. This year, too, makes history as UBB has become part of the Belgian KBC Group.     

In partnership with Plovdiv Regional History Museum and hand in hand with the NIGHT Festival this year we will present the Bank by “opening” its vault to the public. Most probably the majority of people would imagine gold bullions, however it is quite different with us – old typewriters and mechanical calculators, wall clocks, stamps, gold scales, a desk etc., all these are extremely precious to us as they have been confided to the Bank and successfully preserved by now.  

You can imagine that today’s younger generation has hardly seen a clock with a pendulum … Our history is important as we should be aware of what we have been through in order to know what goals to set for the future. 

Our exhibition will be housed by three halls. The first one will be replica of the Bank Manager’s office, the second of a banking hall while the last one will feature a banking vault. 

We have also prepared games for kids that would pose interest for parents too – games, bringing all our visitors back in time.

Mr. Stefan Shivachev: The exhibits will be displayed in three newly-furbished halls of the Museum at 1, Saedinenie Square.    

What makes a difference about our museum halls are the spacious windows, enabling the display of valuable art pieces that are protected from aggression or direct contact with visitors. The NIGHT will be the opening event for the hall that will later house a new museum complex еntitled Plovdiv on its Way to Modern World. Our idea is to show the historic development of Plovdiv town from the Liberation in 1878 till the second half of the 20th century. These are times of country modernization, respectively our town’s modernization. We will show industry birth and development, municipality management and urban planning, public life evolvement.  

What are the financial institution’s oldest items that will be on display during the NIGHT?

Ms. Anka Kostova: The oldest piece is the Austrian violin, made in 1850 by Wilhelm Ruprecht, a luthier craftsman and discovered in one of our banking vaults in the province, to be exhibited in its original case. Visitors will also see one of the first Mercedes-brandedtypewriters (Y1910), Astra calculator dating back to the first decades of the 20th century, wall clocks of the same period, a wooden abacus, a radio and a gramophone of mid 20 century, as well as a portable computer, designed in 1990.

Mr. Stefan Shivachev: UBB, like the rest of Bulgarian banks, was established in the last 20 years and is a successor of the majority of banking branches from the branch network, existing until Y1989.

Unlike other banks UBB management had always a sense of history, thanks to which over the years it has preserved an interesting collection of bank furniture, inventory and tools.  

It aggregates individual collections of typewriters, wall clocks, mechanical calculators, coin and banknotes counting machines, cash boxes, etc. In fact, this is exactly the collection that the exhibition showcases.

What is the UBB collection’s tribute to the history of the Bulgarian banking business? 

Ms. Anka Kostova: I would say that they rather add value to the history of Bulgarian business in general. These pieces clearly display that Bulgarian banking was going hand in hand with the latest European technologies and banking models. 

Mr. Stefan Shivachev: The idea of the exhibition is to see what’s hidden behind the façade, or rather behind the “front office” of a bank. Modern bank services welcome the client/visitor to the so called front office of the Bank – the venue where we contact the bank official and where we may deposit or withdraw cash. In the past, banks ardently kept secret everything behind the front desk. This really sounds logical but, on the other hand, it could be interesting for the public. The usual say is that the bank has a vault where money is being stored and this is the “inner sanctum” that cannot be accessed by outsiders. There are also bank officials processing information, money, etc. Usually we talk about bank collections when the matter concerns paintings or collections of coins, cash notes. And, above all, what is most popular are the collections of pieces of art that happened to come to the Bank as a pledge or have been purposefully included in a collection of valuables. 

How much time did it take to unite all these valuable pieces into a collection? Who took part in their selection and restoration?  

Ms. Anka Kostova: The efforts, invested by our PR Department, together with external experts, in collection, inventory making and restoration, took four years and I believe that the exhibition is above all an offspring of UBB officials from around the country – without their moral responsibility to preserve all these pieces throughout the years nowadays we would be able to speak neither of the Bank’s unique collection, nor of its exhibition.

United Bulgarian Bank marks its 25th anniversary. What features of this tradition will you convey in the future?

Ms. Anka Kostova: UBB will continue being a treasurer of traditions in Bulgaria. Visitors will have the chance of seeing only a small portion of the so called by me emotional vault of the Bank and I hope to also continue disclosing the mystery that hides behind in the future. All related posts will be available on the Collection’s website: www.ubbcollection.bg

Anka Kostova with one of the antiquities, part of UBB's Fund