Exploring Zagreb: Let’s Explore These Five Museums in Zagreb

Welcome to a short tour around Zagreb, where we’ll explore the most famous museums in the city! This list could be long, so I’ve selected only five museums. These museums are traditional, but keep your eyes open because I’ll write an article about not-so-traditional museums which are MUST for visiting!

Let’s start with one of the most beautiful museums in the city – The Archeological Museum, located in Zrinjevac Park.

The Archaeological Museum in Zagreb is an archaeological museum with over 450.000 varied artifacts and monuments, gathered from various sources but mostly from Croatia and, in particular, from the surroundings of Zagreb. The Museum is a direct successor of the National Museum, the oldest museum institution in the capital. This first national museum institution started its public and organized—although non-institutional—work in 1846. Since 1940, when the National Museum was formally abolished, the Archaeological Museum has been working independently. Since 1945, the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb has been in the Vranyczany-Hafner Palace in Zrinski Square (also known as Zrinjevac Park).

Before you decide to visit it, you should know that the Museum consists of five main sections: Prehistory, Egypt, Antiquity, Middle Ages, Coins, and Medals. The section “Prehistory” contains 78.000 objects, ranging from the Paleolithic to the Late Iron Age. The section “Egypt” displays about 600 objects in the permanent exhibition. The section “Antiquity” contains a significant collection of Greek vases (about 1.500 vases) and stones with inscriptions. Roman Antiquity is represented by many statues, military equipment, metal objects, Roman religion and art, and objects from everyday life.

The next Museum is the Nikola Tesla Technical Museum on Savska Street.

The Nikola Tesla Technical Museum collects and showcases scientific and technical appliances used in the country’s history. It exhibits numerous historic aircraft, cars, machinery, and equipment. This is a great thing for boys, small and big, because it is so cool to walk around these machines and see those in person and in close.

The Museum was founded in 1954 and officially opened on January 14th, 1963. In June 2015, the City Assembly of the City of Zagreb renamed the Technical Museum after Nikola Tesla.

There are various distinct sections in the Museum: the Planetarium, the Beehive exhibit, the Mine  – a model of mines for coal, iron, and non-ferrous metals, about 300 m (980 ft) long, and the Nikola Tesla study. The Museum organizes educational, study, informative, and occasional exhibitions, lectures, panel discussions on popular science, playrooms, and workshops. This is one of the coolest museums in Zagreb, but I firmly recommend visiting the Planetarium and the Mine.

These two museums are cool, but I can’t ignore The Zagreb City Museum, my favorite one. The last time I went there, I walked for three hours and wanted more!

The Zagreb City Museum, also known as the Museum of the City of Zagreb, is located on Opatička Street in the Upper town. It was established in 1907 by the Association of the Brethren of the Croatian Dragon. The Museum is housed in a restored monumental complex, which includes the 12th-century Popov Tower (Croatian Popov Toranj – there’s a cool story about this building, I’ll tell you more in one of the following articles), the Observatory, and the 17th-century Zakmardi Granary.

The Museum deals with topics from Zagreb’s cultural, artistic, economic, and political history, spanning from prehistory to the modern period. Its holdings comprise over 75.000 items arranged systematically into collections of artistic and mundane objects characteristic of the city and its history. The collections include paintings, maps, city views, furniture, flags, military uniforms, and coats of arms.

After the 5.5 earthquake that hit Zagreb in March 2020, the Museum has dedicated part of its space to that event that shook all the people in Zagreb those days.

For the Museum of Contemporary Art (Croatian Muzej suvremene umjetnosti), also the biggest and the most modern Museum in the entire country, we’re heading to New Zagreb.

The Museum traces its origins to the City Gallery of Contemporary Art, established in 1954. The gallery was located at the Kulmer Palace in the Upper Town area and housed the Center for Photography, Film and Television and a museum library.

In 1998, a decision was made to move the Museum to a brand new building on the corner of Dubrovnik and Većeslav Holjevac avenues in the Novi Zagreb district (translated New Zagreb). A competition for the building’s design was held, and architect Igor Franić’s design was chosen out of 85 entries submitted. The cornerstone for the new building was laid in November 2003, and the new Museum finally opened on December 11th, 2009, after six years of construction which was beset with several delays.

The present building has a total area of 14.600 m2, of which 3.500 m2 is reserved for its permanent collection and around 1.500 m2 is designated for occasional exhibitions. The building also houses a library, a multimedia hall, a bookstore, a cafe, and a restaurant.

The Museum houses 12.000 objects (of which around 600 are on permanent display) and numerous works by contemporary Croatian and international contemporary artists.

Since Zagreb has many cool museums, it is hard to narrow the list to five, but let me finish this list with a sad story. Why? Because I’ve selected a museum that is currently closed due to renovation because it was heavily damaged in that 2020 earthquake. I know there are more closed museums for the same reason, but let me tell you something about this one – the Mimara Museum.

The Mimara Museum is an art museum located on Roosevelt Square, housing the collection by Wiltrud and Ante Topić Mimara. Its official name is the Art Collection of Ante and Wiltrud Topić Mimara, but most people call it the Mimara Museum (Croatian Muzej Mimara).

The Museum holds a collection of over 3.700 works of art, with more than 1.500 exhibits constituting permanent holdings dating from the prehistoric period to the 20th century. Some famous exhibitions include works attributed to Lorenzetti, Giorgione, Veronese, Canaletto, and many others.

The Museum was opened in 1987 and is housed in a building from the 19th century. Zagreb architect Kuno Waidmann oversaw the conversion of the building into a museum.

I’ve already mentioned a couple of times: there are many more interesting and “must-see “museums, but currently, I can’t fit them all into this list, so I’ll write about them more in the following articles!

Hi! My name is Ivan, and I'm an author of discoverzagreb.com. I have been photographing and exploring Zagreb for more than 15 years, and if you want to know more about me and discoverzagreb.com, read the Introduction articles by clicking here.

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