Natural History Museum
At the beginning of 20th century, several valuable collections of natural artefacts, collected by hardworking individuals, were given to the city of Split. This encouraged prof. Umberto Girometta to initiate the question of founding a Museum of Natural History in Split. By the verdict of District Court in Split, Museum of Natural History was founded on March 10th 1924 as a Municipal Museum of Natural History, and the first custodian was prof. Girometta, who ran the museum until his death in 1939.
After its founding, the Museum was allocated in the town hall building, however, since the space became too tight because of the vast amounts of artefacts, the building of a former restaurant at the the 1st top of Marjan hill was rearranged, and the Museum was relocated there in 1925. The Museum was opened on April 5th 1926 in the newly arranged building, together with the ZOO, as a small ornithology park and the most significant specimens of domestic and exotic animals.
The Museum of Natural History stayed open in the building on Marjan hill until 1991, when it was closed for the public because of the ruinous state of the object. Several years after the closing of the museum’s building, three relocations happened. The first relocation of the Museum, Gripe Fortress, was in 1997, and not a full year after it was once again relocated in temporary space in Marin Getaldić Street. During the year 2000, several actions were initiated to assure adequate accommodation for the museum, because of restricted and difficult work of the Museum, as well as endangerment of the museum’s collection. The result was the Resolution of Split City Council, which gave the Museum new spaces (Poljana kneza Trpimira 3), total size of 1.156 m2. The Museum opened in January 2002.
In the old building on Marjan hill three permanent exhibitions were installed:
Umberto Girometta installed the first exhibition, and was opened at the beginning of World War Two. During the Italian occupation of Dalmatia, the work of the museum was postponed, and when German occupants came, the building was transformed into a temporary military base. Employees of the museum fought for transferring the museum’s artifacts into the old bishop’s palace and thus saved them from destruction. During the occupation of the building on Marjan hill, rooms were destroyed, museum’s inventory, electrical installations, facilities in the aquarium, and almost all cages in the zoo were empty. Dr. Otmar Karlovac was head of the museum at the time.
After the war ended, the building was fixed, and the collection was returned to the museum, and preparation for the second exhibition began. At the time, our famous entomologist Petar Novak managed the museum.
In 1955 dr. Antun Cvitanić took over managing of the museum, and he installed the third and final exhibition in the building on Marjan hill, which lasted until the closing of the building in 1991. At the time, the museum had an exhibition room of 180 m2, depo of 100 m2, work-rooms of 55m2, taxidermy workshop of 25m2 in its disposal, and it also had a collection of about 107000 museum artifacts.
Over a decade after closing the building on Marjan hill, a Mollusk collection of the Bakotić family was installed in the building as a permanent exhibition of the museum. Today, the Museum has about 155000 museum artifacts sorted in 54 geological-mineral, paleontology’, zoology’ and botanic collections, and the first specimens come from the 1920’s. The Museum owns a considerable photo-documentation, and museum library with about 8500 literary units.
Although the Museum works in inadequate conditions, with its activities, it gives a big contribution to the development of natural sciences in Dalmatia. Popularization of the museum’s collection and natural history is presented to the public through thematic exhibitions, scientific and expert works, scientific-expert meetings, publishing in print and electronic media and participation in television and radio shows.
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