The first idea of a museum that would collect material on the history of Novo mesto and Dolenjska was born in 1865, when the town celebrated its 500th anniversary. After several years of efforts by the Museum Society (founded in 1941) – an association of Dolenjska intellectuals, who started to systematically collect museum material – the long-awaited museum was finally founded in 1950, exactly 85 years after the first initiative. On 1 June 1950, the museum was handed over to the District People’s Committee Novo mesto by a decision of the People’s Committee of the Ljubljana government. Since then, that day has been considered the birthday of the Museum of Dolenjska. Every year, it is publicly celebrated with an Open Doors Day featuring diverse activities all day long, and – since 1996 – with the traditional exhibition From the depots of the Museum of Dolenjska.
The first permanent exhibitions of the Museum of Dolenjska were opened in 1953 in the Križatija building, which has housed the museum since 1951. A general regional museum, the Museum of Dolenjska expanded and in the mid-1980s, it acquired its present form by including the remote facilities of Jakac House and Kočevski rog. Initially one building, the museum complex now comprises four buildings, not counting the remote facilities of Jakac House and Kočevski rog. Today, the museum comprises seven permanent exhibitions, five curatorial departments, an education department, and a restoration workshop for archaeological artefacts. The museum’s gallery and the central exhibition area house large temporary exhibitions.
With its rich and diverse exhibition program, research and publishing activities, as well as the diverse and systematic educational work, the museum is a valuable cultural and artistic centre of Novo mesto.