Documents, letters and reviews on Pupin’s charity work range from the National Museum Foundation to philanthropic activity.
For decades Mihajlo Pupin supported students, artists, scientists, high schools, the University, the National Museum, the church, several societies, organizations, his native Idvor, whole-heartedly and with true dedication. With his assistance several monographs and books were printed, with his funds archaeological research and antiquity investigations carried out. The list of his charities is extremely long and has still not been completed.
He donated financial support and used generously his reputation and position.
In 1914 Mihajlo Pupin sent a letter to the Serbian Royal Academy, establishing a fund named ’’Fund Pijade Aleksić-Pupin". With this fund ’’I should like to pay tribute to my mother, who, under the burden of great sacrifice, sent me off from a village school to a higher school in town, although she herself had never even seen a village school in her childhood, nor had she ever had the chance to learn the skills of writing and reading. I am convinced that today there are a great number of like-minded Serbian mothers in the newly-liberated areas, and for this reason I will gladly set aside to help make their sacrifice in schooling their sons a little less of a burden“.
In 1928 with a letter forwarded to the Ministry of Agriculture and Waters of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes he established an aid fund named ’’Fund Mihailo Pupin“. In his letter, he pointed out, among other things: ’’in the event of my death before the endowment fund is approved, this written document should serve as my last will and testament“.
In 1932 he sent a letter to the Minister of Education requesting permission to establish the ’’Mihailo Pupin Foundation in the museum of Natural History and Arts in Belgrade“. He was instrumental in also establishing the Serbian society for helping children war orphans.
THE NATIONAL MUSEUM FOUNDATION
There is a general lack of awareness about how indebted our spiritual, historical and artistic heritage is to Mihajlo Pupin, primarily owing to his personal efforts and his generous financial assistance.
He held in high esteem and cherished friendly relations with prominent painter figures like Uroš Predić and Paja Jovanović.
Pupin made his first concrete humanitarian gesture in 1889 in Paris, at a grand international exhibition where the Kingdom of Serbia took part too. Pupin purchased at that exhibition two master pieces of Serbian fine arts of the XIX century: „Fugitives from Hercegovina“ and „Orphan at its Mother’s Grave“ by Uroš Predić.
The foundation of Mihajlo Pupin is of multiple significance. It does not only provide information about valuable pieces of art and their importance, but discloses the long-sightedness of the benefactor himself. Purchasing artistic works of contemporary Serbian artists collecting the most important products of Serbian fine arts of the XIX century, also indicate that Pupin had an affinity and inclination towards classical art and antiquity in general. And if we add to this Pupin’s decision in 1932 to establish as part of the National Museum a Foundation carrying his name, the funds of which were used to print publications of Serbian antiquity, then it is perfectly clear how enormous a contribution this great scientist had in preserving our national historical and artistic heritage.
(Petar Petrović, Belgrade National Museum)