The History of the Musum

The collection of the Museum at Pula was started during the first half of the 19th century by collecting stone monuments in the Temple of Augustus. The discovery of stone, pottery and metal objects at Nesactium served as a base for the establishment of the Museum of Antiquities (Museo d'antichità), and the Municipal Museum of Pula (Civico Museo della città di Pola) in 1902. Its seat was in a building that no longer exists, on Uspon Sv. Stjepana, in the vicinity of the Arch of the Sergii.

With the transfer of the seat of the Istrian Society for Archaeology and Local History (Società istriana di archeologia e storia patria), and the removal of part of the archaeological inventory from Poreč to Pula, the Municipal Museum merged with the State Collection (stone monuments) and the Provincial Museum from Poreč (Museo Provinciale), resulting in the creation of a single institution with regional character, and so the Royal Museum of Istria (Regio Museo dell'Istria ) was established in 1925. Due to the richness of the collections it soon became necessary to look for new exhibition premises, and so a structure that used to house the former Austrian secondary school (erected in 1890) was adapted to serve the new needs of this Museum that was opened for the general public in 1930. The Museum is located on the eastern edge of a prehistoric hillfort settlement and the Roman colony of Pola. The stately Roman Double Gate (Porta Gemina) and the open-air lapidarium and park, an access way and a broad staircase all lead to the main entrance into the building behind which is the Small Roman Theater. This exhibition was with lesser modifications open to the public until the end of World War II, when the majority of the exhibits were moved to Italy during the Anglo-American administration.

This institution was renamed as the Archaeological Museum of Istria in 1947, and has been continuously functioning until the present from its original premises. After the Italian government restituted part of the archaeological materials in 1961, systematic work and huge efforts were necessary to gradually adapt the Museum building and to develop a didactic-visual conception for all of the representative holdings that the Museum possessed. On the ground floor and in the corridors of the Museum the rearranged lapidarium was opened in 1968 (another rearrangement is currently underway). In 1973, the exhibition halls housing the Prehistoric Collection were opened on the first floor of the Museum and on the second those of the Roman, Late Roman and Medieval Collections. The exhibition halls of the Archaeological Museum of Istria are constantly being replenished with new finds discovered on Istrian archaeological sites (prehistoric caves, hillforts and necropolises, Roman agricultural estates, buildings, cemeteries and religious structures from the Early Christian and Byzantine period, the period of Barbarian incursions and the settlement of the Slavs in Istria.

With a careful selection of archaeological objects that are on display in the current permanent exhibition, we present the development of material culture on the territory of Istria from prehistory (Paleolithic, Neolithic, the Bronze Age and the particularly rich finds from the last millennium BC, discovered in necropolises of the old Histri – on the first floor), through the period of Roman rule (the lapidarium on the ground floor and in the corridors of the Museum, and exhibited on the second floor, finds from Roman necropolises, the collection of glass, pottery, metal objects, portrait and decorative sculpture, building materials), the Late Roman and Early Medieval periods (finds from Early Christian necropolises, castles, Early Christian churches, grave finds – jewelry and costume parts from Slavic necropolises), up to the period of feudalization of the Peninsula (likewise on the second floor), and a section of the medieval lapidarium (the collection of medieval interlace ornament sculpture).

The Archaeological Museum of Istria is nowadays organized as the Archaeological Department (consisting of the Prehistoric, Roman, Medieval and Modern Age Collections, with a Numismatic Collection and an Underwater Archaeology Collection in the founding stage), the Documentation Department, the Library Department, the Education Department and the Conservation-Restoration Department. Except in the main building, the Museum has also dislocated collections that are located in the amphitheater at Pula, for which it is also responsible, the temple of Augustus, the Franciscan monastery and at Nesactium.

Typo3 site by Ulisys d.o.o. , 2010.