Ethnological Department

National Museum Zadar was founded in 1945 and it consisted of the Ethnographic and the Natural History Departments. The basis of the collections of the Ethnographic Department was some two hundred different items (textiles, jewelry, weapons and wooden objects), this being the lawyer Dušan Jurković’s collection who was also the first head of the Public Museum od Zadar. The Museum was located in a private villa in the part of Zadar called Brodarica.

On April 30, 1950, with the professional assistance of employees of the Ethnographic Museum in Zagreb, especially the assistance offered by professor Marijana Gušić, the Ethnographic Department was opened in the City Sentinel. On that occasion, the Ethnographic museums in Zagreb and Split loaned 70 items for a shorter period of time. There were 29 objects owned by the department. The material was divided into those from the Dinara region and those of the Adriatic area. 9 clothing ensembles, textile handiworks, pieces of jewelry and a larger number of the most beautiful woven aprons were exhibited.

By 1951 the Ethnographic Department numbered some three hundred items of which many became a part of the permanent exhibition. At the end of 1951 the ethnologist Olga Oštrić found employment in the Ethnographic department. Her arrival marked the beginning of professional museum ethnological activity.

On January 1, 1952 the Ethnographic Department became an independent museum while in 1962 it again became a part of National Museum Zadar. The largest number of items were collected during the fifties and sixties and by then it was perceived that the City Sentinel is too cramped a space for the Ethnographic Museum. There was talk of the space in the old hospital, blueprints were made as well as a scale model of the new Ethonographic Department but nothing came out of this.

The Ethnographic Department collects the traditional rural culture of northern Dalmatia which is divided into the Dinara and the Adriatic area. All past exhibitions emphasized the specificities of these cultures presenting them through various themes. In 1991, because of the oncoming danger of war, the permanent exhibition was dismantled. Besides this, intensive repair work had to be done on the City Sentinel. Working space was relocated to the Natural History Department.

Department activities commenced only after the end of the Homeland War and the ethnographic exhibit returned only in 2004 to the City Sentinel with the exhibition “Ethnological peculiarities of northern Dalmatia” which attempted to present as fully as possible the rural traditional culture of northern Dalmatia. Because of practical reasons, the ground floor exhibited the greatest number of photographs since this area hosts other exhibitions as well so that the ethnographic display has to periodically be taken down. The culture of dwelling is presented on the first floor.
Periodical thematic exhibitions of the Ethnographic department are held in the City Lodge.

In 1994 the Ethnographic Department changed its name and became the Ethnological Department.

Since 1975 the Department has the Ethnographic collection in Veli Iž under its professional jurisdiction. This collection has been assembled by the village teacher Neda Sutlović and a local woman named Danica Pekić. In 1994 this collection became a regional collection of National Museum Zadar. It faithfully represents the traditional culture of Veli Iž. Special emphasis is placed on pottery of Iž because Veli Iž was a significant pottery center using the hand potter’s wheel.

The problem of space is a constant problem of the Ethnological department. This problem was the reason why two expert preparators of textile abandoned the Department and why it cannot purchase a larger number of objects and why the depot is dislocated from the working and exhibition space.

In addition to collecting objects and data relating to these objects, as well as data relating to the traditional culture of northern Dalmatia as a whole, presented through various thematic exhibitions, the Ethnological Department also collects photo, dia and audio documentation as well as old postcards which thematically belong to the rural traditional culture of northern Dalmatia and its contacts with the city (with Zadar). Of particular interest is the film documentation which was mostly created in cooperation with the Ethnological Institute of the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb. The film documentation recorded different forms of handicrafts and of trades characteristic for northern Dalmatia as well as some customs, for example, the customs of the Holy Week in Novigrad or the customs connected to the trans-mountain stock tending in northern Dalmatia.

The insight that one best becomes familiar with the ethno heritage through active acquisitions has inspired the Ethnological department to organize various workshops. The aim of these workshops is to acquaint primarily teaching personnel with the traditional culture of northern Dalmatia as a significant part of the cultural identity of this region and to explore the possibility of applying and transforming certain of its segments into contemporary life.

From its beginning the Ethnographic Department cooperated with the chair of ethnology at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb and served as the museum and field practice for many generations of students of ethnology. When the department of ethnology and cultural anthropology was founded at the University of Zadar in 2005. this Department continued the same tradition.

Today the Ethnological Department is not only a place to become acquainted with the rural traditional culture of northern Dalmatia but a place of dialogue of the populace of this area with their own cultural heritage and a place to search for one’s own identity in contemporary cultural and civilizational circumstances.

Open to visitors

Ethnological Department, City Sentinel

Summer: Monday to Sunday: 9am to 8pm.
Winter: Monday to Saturday: 9am to 8pm. Sunday: 9am to 1pm.


Narodni trg
23000 Zadar

Contact us

T. +385 (0)23/211-198

dr. sc. Jasenka Lulić-Štorić,
senior curator
Head of the Ethnological Department

Collections of the Ethnological Museum