Academician Ivan Lazarov (1889–1952) was one of the most prominent artists and intellectual figures in Bulgarian cultural history. Some of his works, such as the sculpture ‘They Won’, or the figure of ‘Mother’ from the monument at the grave of the poet Dimcho Debelyanov in Koprivshtitsa, have long been part of Bulgarian cultural identity. Ivan Lazarov was among the initiators of the Native Art Society, established in 1919, which played a key role in the artistic life of the country in the 1920s and 1930s. As a professor (1924–1952) at the State Academy of Arts, and as its Director (1937–1939, 1943–1945), he made a major contribution to the development of academic education in the field of fine arts in Bulgaria. Academician Lazarov was one of the founders, and the first Director of the Institute of Figurative Art Studies at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. He was the author of numerous articles devoted to various issues of sculpture and figurative art, the old Bulgarian art, and the connection between the figurative arts and architecture.
After Ivan Lazarov’s death in 1952, the idea was conceived for his family home to be expropriated by the state and transformed into a museum presenting and promoting his oeuvre. The house became state property in 1970, but more than a decade was to pass before, in 1989, the museum opened as a branch of the National Gallery. The exposition includes over 100 works by the sculptor from all periods in his creative development, and are now owned by the National Gallery and his heirs.