Zagreb – the home of speciality museums

Zagreb – the home of speciality museums

Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, was shaken by a 5.5 ML earthquake in March 2020, causing severe damage to many of the buildings. Especially affecting those housing museums and galleries, such as the Mimara Museum. During my visit in May 2022 these buildings were still temporarily closed and if recent media reports are correct, this won’t be changing anytime soon. Little has been done in the way of repairs and many residents of Zagreb are questioning why the EU funds appointed to the reconstruction work haven’t been spent….

But luckily other museums are open – different from the typical modern art galleries and history museums you find in most capital cities – these are speciality museums. Read below for why you should visit them.

 

Museum of Broken Relationships

Museum of Broken Relationships
Museum of Broken Relationships

By far the most famous speciality museum. This museum was designed by Dražen Grubišić and Olinka Vištica, shortly after their own breakup. It displays personal objects and treasures from former lovers along with brief synopses related to the symbolic possession. Some of these stories are heartbreaking, tear jerking, thought provoking, and others are outright hilarious. They are written in both Croatian and English with books of the stories available in many other languages.

Museum of Broken Relationships
Museum of Broken Relationships

The collection is ever growing (with a surprising amount of objects from the UK). Your first thought might be – isn’t it really depressing? But the way everything is arranged – clean, no clutter, just the objects and a concise story make it engaging. Even the most simple object you would disregard in a charity shop becomes the embodiment of two people’s emotions and you’ll want to find out more about it.

What's the significance?
What’s the significance?

It’s also a great reminder that most people go through breakups, it’s part of life and you’re not alone. Whether you’re long term single, recently broken up or in a relationship, there’s something here you’ll be able to relate to.

My favourite item includes a young man from Peru travelling Europe and giving a Virgin Mary statue to the love he had found before departing, never to be seen again. Only for the woman to discover his backpack was full of these statues.

Virgin Mary statue
Virgin Mary statue

 

Museum of Hangovers (Muzej Mamurluka)

This one is for the drinkers out there and for anyone who has experienced a hangover. Opened on December 1, 2019 it has been steadily growing since. Entrance is €5.40 for adults and €4 for students but you’re given a chance to win entry if you hit the bullseye on the dart board. This is made harder by the fact you are given beer goggles. It is possible as the guy before me did it. However…. I didn’t even manage to hit the board.

You can buy a beer to sip as you ponder on the drunken stories which are linked together with various artefacts, similar to the Museum of Broken Relationships. While it’s a small museum, probably only taking 30 minutes to get around – it’s packed full of hilarious hangover tales, lots of interactive pieces and you can also practise your drunk driving.

Practising my drunk driving
Practising my drunk driving

Those who drink alcohol will probably appreciate it more and find yourself saying – “I remember when something similar happened to me!” Anyone who has found themselves sitting in a bar discussing a crazy night out with friends can relate to the displays here.

And while it shows the funny side of being drunk, it also highlights the dangers and negative health effects of alcohol abuse.

Sadness inside
Sadness inside

On leaving you’re given a shot of raki, a popular alcoholic drink in the Balkans which was much appreciated.

Museum of Hangovers
Museum of Hangovers

Zagreb 80s museum

In the upper town of Zagreb, near the Museum of Broken Relationships, is the 80s museum where you’re transported back into a typical Yugoslavian apartment with authentic items from the time. Everything is on point – the music, the smell, the clothes, the drinks. It’s fully interactive, you can go through the food tins in the cupboards, try on the clothing, flip through photo albums and play Pac-Man on an Atari.

Even growing up in the UK, sitting on the sofa, it felt remarkably like going into my grandmother’s house as a child. For anyone who can remember the 80s it’s a fantastic nostalgia trip.

Note – it’s cash only

80s museum
80s museum

 

Croatian Museum of Naïve Art

The Croatian Museum of Naive Art
The Croatian Museum of Naive Art

Also located in the upper town is the Croatian Museum of Naïve Art. While labelled as a Fine Arts museum, it is different from your typical one. The artists aren’t just limited to Croatians but are from all over the world who paint or sculpt in the naïve art style. This style doesn’t require the artists to have a formal education, most are self-taught. The art made me think of the folk genre due to the bright primary colours and as many of the paintings depict people working on farms, a throwback to Soviet times. The art is certainly unique.

 

Nikola Tesla Technical Museum (Tehnicki Muzej)

Nikola Tesla Technical Museum
Nikola Tesla Technical Museum

Located in the lower town is the Nikola Tesla Technical Museum. Named after the famous inventor of alternating current electricity. Tesla was born in the village Smiljan, then part of the Austrian Empire but now in modern day Croatia. I didn’t realise this. I’ve flown into Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade Serbia, so I assumed he was Serbian, but while he was ethnically Serbian, his birth place was in Croatia.

Even though the museum is named after the inventor, it’s more of a general science museum covering many inventions from Croatia, along with a good exhibition devoted to Tesla.

Nikola Tesla Technical Museum
Nikola Tesla Technical Museum

If you like engineering, this museum has it covered – planes, tanks, trams, space crafts, farming equipment- all mostly from the soviet era. As well as, an interesting collection of replica space shuttles upstairs.

It’s not flashy and on the older side. You can also ride the old tram and tour the mine underneath it, check the website for when these are running.

 

Other museums

There’s also a Museum of Illusions, similar to those you find in most European capital cities. However, the museum in Zagreb was the first one ever opened in 2015.

 

Thank you for reading. If anyone has any questions please leave a comment below or DM on instagram.

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