History of the Museum

From 1914 the museum was situated in the attic of the school at Piazza Oberdan and in one room of the City Library. As there were no minimum conditions for the quality of the work in 1927 the museum moved to the ground floor of the Villa Margherita, the former residence of Archduke Joseph. With the relocation came a reorganisation and the natural history material was transferred to the Liceo Scientifico. For a time, with the dedication of Prof. Giorgio Nicodemi, director of the Gallery of Modern Art in Milan, and his fellow citizen Guido Assuero Bottussi, an art history critic and restorer, an initiative was taken that in place of the existing history museum a gallery of modern art should be established. Although the project did not succeed, a considerable number of high-quality works was collected. In the rooms of Villa Margherita the end of war was seen in, and in 1947 it changed its name to GRADSKI HISTORIJSKI MUZEJ – MUSEO STORICO CITTADINO (THE CITY HISTORY MUSEUM).

Yet another great change happened in 1948 when the museum was placed in the eastern part of the then Governor’s Palace and in 1949 it was combined with the Museum of the Croatian Littoral (founded in 1933 as the CITY MUSEUM OF SUŠAK) under the collective title of the MUSEUM OF THE CROATIAN LITTORAL. The museum’s material was now situated in two different places – the residence of Count Nugent at Trsat and in the “Vladimir Švalba Vid” House of Culture.

New changes happened in 1953 when, at the suggestion of the administration of the Museum of the Croatian Littoral, the Council for Education and Culture of the People’s Committee of the City of Rijeka decided that the title MUSEUM OF THE CROATIAN LITTORAL be changed to the PEOPLE’S MUSEUM. The museum’s items were still situated in two buildings, but now in the greater part in the “Vladimir House of Culture, where the administration of the museum was, and the rest was in Trsat. The expert work is divided into four departments: The Department of Maritime Affairs, the Department of Cultural History, the Department of Ethnography, the Department of the National Liberation War, and also in the museum’s holdings there are two valuable collections: The Dr. Franjo Kresnik Collection the Sušak doctor and violin builder, and the Theatre Collection.

In March 1955 when the “Vladimir House of Culture was demolished, and all of its movable and immovable possessions were moved to the ownership of the People’s Museum, the opportunity arose for all the museum material to be located in one single place. The opportunity was taken, and during 1956 all the material, besides the National Liberation War Collection, was transferred from Trsat to the former Governor’s Palace. In February 1957 the Conservation Institute of Rijeka, on the basis of the Law of the Protection of Cultural Monuments and Natural Rarities, a decision was made with which the collections of the People’s Museum were declared cultural monuments and placed under state protection. The People’s Museum consisted of three departments: the Department of the National Revolution, the Maritime Department and the Cultural-History Department with the Archaeological, Historical and Ethnographical collection. The area of the Palace with the People’s Museum was shared with the Concert Office, the Puppet Theatre, part of the Historical Archives of Rijeka, two artists’ studios, the Heritage Foundation, the Jedinstvo Cultural-Artistic Society, the political school, the teleprinter of Novi List, the photographic laboratory of the Red Cross and the Society of Amateur Artists, that hindered the work and development of the museum’s activities.

With the independence of the Maritime Department of the People’s Museum on 21st October 1960, the Municipal Council and Council of Manufacturers People’s Liberation Committee Old Town – Rijeka issued a decision about the establishment of a MARITIME MUSEUM. The illogical placing of the museum’s items in two institutes whose work coincided in many ways, the heterogeneity of the materials and the fact that both museums were located in the same building indicated an impending change.

With the decision to amend the Decision about the establishment of the Maritime Museum Rijeka the title of the institution was changed on 21st June 1961 to THE MARITIME AND HISTORY MUSEUM OF THE CROATIAN LITTORAL – RIJEKA which under this long title combines the Maritime and People’s museums, and its activities developed in the former Governor’s Palace.

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