Museum of Arts and Crafts
The Museum of Arts and Crafts (Muzej za umjetnost i obrt) was first established in 1880 to house collections of artworks by craftsmen and artists. The building was designed by Hermann Bollé and was built between 1887 and 1892. More the 3,000 objects of applied arts from the Gothic period to the present give an overview of Croatia's cultural history and its close ties to the rest of Europe.
The collections offer an insight into the Croatian and European production of arts and crafts, spanning from the late Medieval times to Art Deco and up to the more contemporary era. It includes religious art, Judaica, and items including clocks and watches, ivories, metalwork, glass, ceramics, textiles and fashion.
As the museum has international backing, impressive temporary exhibitions from abroad occasionally take place here. The adjacent library has a total of 65,000 books on arts and crafts.
Croatian Natural Museum
The 18th century Amadeo Palace, a theater from 1797 to 1834, has been the Natural History Museum since 1868, when collections from the Department of Natural Science of the National Museum were transferred here. At the end of the 19th century there were 3 museums of natural history:
- Mineralogy and Petrography
- Geology and Palaeontology
These 3 merged in 1986 to form the present museum. There are over 2,500,000 exhibits, including minerals from all over the world and palaeontology collections containing some of the material found in Krapina. The zoological collection documents every species of animal found in Croatia.
In 1973, Ante Topic Mimara, a businessman who was also a collector, painter and restorer, donated his extensive collection to Croatia. The Mimara was set up for their display. The museum is in an enormous Neo-Renaissance building from 1895 by the German architects Ludwig and Hülsner. The works are displayed chronologically from the prehistoric era to the present day.
The archaeological section is very fascinating, with important finds from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, and Pre-Columbian America, as well as the Middle and Far East (Japan, Cambodia, Indonesia and India). The icon collection not only has Russian pieces, but also has icons from Palestine, Antioch and Asia Minor dating from the 6th to the 13th centuries.
There are ancient Persian, Turkish and Moroccan carpets, and about 300 exhibits cover over 3,500 years of the development of Chinese art, from the Chang to the Qing dynasties. More than 650 glassware exhibits come from Europe, as well as Persia and Egypt. About 1,000 objects and pieces of furniture give a good overall picture of European craftsmanship from the Middle Ages to the 19th century.
Sculpture and Paintings
There's also a wide-ranging collection of 200 sculptures, which date from ancient Greece to the time of the Impressionists. They include works by the Italian sculptors Giambologna, the Della Robbias and Verrocchio, and the Frenchmen Jean-Antoine Houdon and Auguste Rodin. Italian painting is represented by by, among others, Veronese, Paolo Veneziano, Pietro Lorenzetti, Raphael, Canaletto, Giorgino and Caravaggio.
Dutch Baroque painting is represented by Rembrandt, Jacob van Ruisdael, and Jan van Goyen. The museum also has paintings from by the English artists John Constable and J.M.W. Turner and the French painters Edouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Camille Pissarro.
Ethnographic Museum Zagreb
This is the most important museum of its kind in Croatia. It was founded in 1919 and set up in this harmonious domed building, constructed in 1902 in the Art Nouveau style by the architect Vjekoslav Bastl, for exhibitions held by the Chamber of Commerce. The statues decorating the central part of the façade are by the sculptor Rudolf Valdec and the frescoes on the dome were painted by Oton Ivekovic.
Only a small part (2,800 pieces) of the 80,000 exhibits which the museum possesses are on display. Croatian culture is illustrated through exhibits of gold and silver jewelry, musical instruments, splendid embroidery, furnishings, kitchen utensils, tools, beautiful traditional women's costumes embroidered in gold an men's ceremonial dress.
A reconstructed farmhouse room shows the customs and way of life of Croat farmers and fishermen. There's also a fascinating collection of dolls dressed in traditional costumes, called the Ljeposav Perinic collection. The valuable collection of pieces of non-European civilizations, including Latin America, Africa, the Far East, Melanesia and Australia, was assembled from donations made by scholars and explorers, among them Dragutin Lerman and the brothers Mirko and Stevo Seljan.
Zagreb City Museum
Three historic buildings (the 17th century nun's convent of St. Clare, a 12th century tower, and a 17th century granary) have been linked to form the Zagreb City Museum (Muzej grada Zagreba). Its collection of historic, cultural, military and domestic artifacts, many donated by prominent townspeople, are arranged in themed displays, illustrating every facet of the city's development, from prehistory to the present day.
Across the city, the museum also maintains the former residences of some of Croatia's most celebrated recent figures; that of the architect Viktor Kovacic, the writer Miroslav Krleza and his wife Bela, plus the poet and painter Cata Dujsin-Ribar and her two husbands. The period furnishings, decor and works of art in each are perfectly preserved, making fascinating short tours.