Natural History Department

The Natural History Department is one of the four departments of National Museum Zadar and is the successor of the one-time oldest Natural History Museum in Croatia.

The department is located in a part of the former Providur’s palace in Medulićeva street, no.2 and occupies 450 m2 of space of which exhibition space takes up 150 m2, storage rooms with collections 91 m2, offices and preparation workshops 73 m2.

The museum mission of today’s Natural History Department is based on the collecting, researching and presenting the flora and fauna of the broader Zadar area as well as of the other neighboring areas. Research done out in the field contributes to the creation of new collections and these alongside those which were donated or purchased make up the holdings of the Natural History Department. The exhibition-presentation activity of the department engages different themes from ecology to the problematic of protected areas using the material from the collections of the department but also by hosting exhibitions from other Croatian regions.

The collecting of material and the founding of collections began in the now distant year of 1832 when the Austrian regent in Dalmatia Vetter von Lilienberg issued a proclamation (on November 30) to the populace of the area of the province concerning the gathering of natural goods, industrial products and old artifacts for the museum which was being founded in Zadar as the seat of the province.

In the past this department existed as an independent museum but at the end of 1962 the Natural History Museum was integrated into National Museum Zadar as the Natural History Department. From that date up to 2002 the growth of the collections was mostly founded on donations and purchases and rarely on fieldwork discoveries. In 1955 the Museum received for safekeeping Domenico Pappafava’s valuable but damaged botanical collection from the beginning of XIXth century. In 1964 Blaž Cvitanović’s malacological collection with about 6100 samples, created between 1905 and 1916 in Veli rat on the northern tip of Dugi otok, was purchased while in 1972 Josef Grüll’s malacological collection dating from the end of the XIXth century and the beginning of the XXth century with about 950 specimens was obtained. Ivo Franković’s collection of fish and crabs (190 specimens) was bought step by step from 1971 to 1988. In 1990 Anate Savković’s collection of consisted mostly of moths (300 specimens) was purchased.

During the Homeland War, in 1991, Cvitanović’s and Grüll’s valuable malacological collections were removed to the Zadar Benedictine nunnery to be returned to the department in 2003. In 1993 a part of Pappafava’s herbarium was given to the Croatian Natural History Museum in Zagreb to be researched and put in order and was returned in 2003.

During its time don Blaž Cvitanović’s collection was considered the most valuable collection of mollusk shells of the local character on the Adriatic. The collection was esteemed not only because of the number of species but also because of the number of rare species. Don Cvitanović placed the specimens of shells in small cardboard boxes on which he designated the the species name, the author of the description of the species and how rare it was. He kept these boxes in a cupboard with 60 drawers which he had made in 1910 according to his own design. Today this same cupboard in its original drawers holds Cvitanović’s purchased malacological collection in the Natural History Department of National Museum Zadar.

The holdings of the Natural History Department consist of 25 collections:

  1. Mammalogical colection (Mammalia);
  2. Ornithological collection (Aves);
  3. Herpetological collection (Reptilia);
  4. Herpetological collection (Amphibia);
  5. Ichtiological collection ;
  6. Botanical collection;
  7. Collection of sponges (Spongia);
  8. Collection of cnidarians (Cnidaria);
  9. Malacological Collection (Mollusca);
  10. The Crustacea Collection (Crustacea);
  11. Collection of millipeds and centipedes (Myriapoda);
  12. Collection of spiders (Arachnida);
  13. Collection of echinoderms (Oligomeria);
  14. Collection of moss animals Bryozoa;
  15. Collection of tunicates (Ascidiacea)
  16. Collection of butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera);
  17. Collection of beetles (Coleoptera);
  18. Collection of bugs (Hemiptera);
  19. Collection of ants, wasps and bees (Hymenoptera);
  20. Collection of true flies (Diptera);
  21. Colletion of scorpion flies (Mecoptera);
  22. Collection of mayflies, dragonflies, stoneflies and caddisflies (Ephemeroptera, Odonata, Plecoptera, Trichoptera);
  23. Collection of the grasshoppers, crickets, locusts, cockroaches and mantids (Orthoptera, Dictyoptera, Mantodea);
  24. Collection of net-winged insects (Neuroptera);
  25. Collection of fossils and minerals.

Since 2003 a number of larger thematic exhibitions have been staged which present the protected areas of the broader Zadar region using the material from the department’s collections as well as a number of smaller educative exhibitions with various biological themes.

Open to visitors

Natural History Department

Open for group visits by prior announcement on phone 023/314-459.

Adults: 20 kn
Students: 10 kn
Children under 4-7 years: 5kn
Children under 4 years: free
Members of museum associations: free


Medulićeva 2
23000 Zadar

Contact us

T. +385 (0)23/314-459

dr. sc. Snježana Vujčić-Karlo,
senior curator
head of the Natural History Department

Collections of the Natural History Department