The History of National Museum Zadar

The History of National Museum Zadar
Museo Nazionale
The year 1832. is taken to be the beginning of organized museum activity in Zadar. It was then that the first regional museum of the general type. Museo nazionale, was established after the proclamation issued by the Austrian imperial regent in Dalmatia Vetter von Lilienberg who summoned the populace of Dalmatia to collect material for the establishment of a National Museum in Zadar as the seat of the province. The museum was to hold subjects from the animal and plant kingdom, from the historical past as well as samples of folk and industrial activity.

In 1897 the Archeological Museum developed out of this museum, while in 1905. the Natural History Museum came into being and continued its activities up to WWII when it was severely devastated by the Allies’ bombardment of the city.

In September 1945 in the liberated city of Zadar an initiative got under way to re-establish the National Museum - National Museum Zadar whose initial components were the Natural History Department and the Ethnographic Department and which was to integrate all activities excepting archeology. Starting January 1952 the departments of National Museum Zadar separated themselves and became independent museums – the Ethnographic Museum and the Natural History Museum. Such was the case up to December 1962.

On October 10, 1948 Gallery of Fine Arts, as the first public gallery institution in Zadar, was also established and preparations were made for the founding of the Department of Zadar City Museum which was established January 1, 1960. In December 1962. the Museum of the People's Revolution was also in the process of being established.

In 1962 the Council of the district of Zadar passed a resolution according to which all the existing museums, including the Museum of the People's Revolution which was in the process of being established, were to be integrated into one institution under the name National Museum Zadar. The administration of the Museum, the Department of the People's Revolution and the Cultural-Historical department were located in a new building built in 1962.

From these dates it is to be concluded that National Museum Zadar was founded at least three times: in 1832, 1945 and 1962. Its manner of operating has been retained to the present day with the change of names of museums to departments so that instead of the Department of Zadar City Museum we have the Cultural-Historical Department, instead of the Museum of the People's Revolution we have the Department of the People's Revolution. In addition there is the Natural History Department and the Ethnographic department while Gallery of Fine Arts, after its integration into National Museum Zadar, changed its name to the Modern gallery which it bore up to 1978 when the old name was returned.

In 1992 the Department of the People's Revolution was abolished and its holdings integrated into Department of Zadar City Museum.

In 1978 National Museum Zadar was assigned to professionally oversee the regional Cultural-Historical collection in Mali Iž on the island of Iž that held material from the National Liberation War.

In 1994. National Museum Zadar also obtained the regional Ethnographic collection in Veli Iž on the island of Iž which was created in 1975 through donations made by the local folk and whose professional conception was the product of the dedication of the ethnologist Olga Oštrić.

In 2000 a documentation service, whose goal was to collect, process and record the information-documentary aspects of the professional activities of the museum was established. Because of the heterogeneity of the material, from the professional point of view the departments of National Museum Zadar work as independent units.

The basic mission of today's National Museum Zadar encompasses the systematic collecting, safekeeping, exhibiting, documenting and the professional and scientific processing of mobile and immobile objects of the civilizational, cultural and natural heritage that has come into being in the period since the XIIIth century down to the present day. The area of interest and research is the Zadar district or, more broadly, northern Dalmatia with its islands and its immediate mainland hinterland (Bukovica, the area beneath the Velebit mountain chain, Ravni kotari).

The museum curators are the authors of the conceptions of periodical exhibitions which as a rule are organized in the City Lodge, the exhibition pavilion of National Museum Zadar.
The Museum is a co-organizer of or host to various exhibitions staged by other institutions.
The Museum publishes monographs, catalogues, posters, postcards, etc.
The Museum is the organizer of or host to professional and scholarly conferences, cultural manifestations, concerts, book promotions, workshops, etc.

The vision of the future of National Museum Zadar ought to be seen within the Heritage Museum which will be situated in the Rector's and Providure's palaces.