Exactly seventy years ago the Archaeological Museum of Istria (AMI) opened its doors following a post-war hiatus. New national legislation provided protection of museum and documentation material and – with the unsealing of the building – the institution’s first director Boris Baćić dedicated his efforts to its further development and to museological activity in general. In spite of the new regulations, the preservation of cultural heritage was not at the forefront of society’s concerns – one of the first tasks was to raise public awareness. It very quickly became clear that developing activity as envisaged in the legislation would require a larger staff – over the coming years it was expanded by a further four specialist and four assistant staff members. Primarily these were assistants Branko Marušić (1948), Štefan Mlakar (1949), Josip Mladin (1955) and preparator Ljubica Horvat (1951). In the post-war years of societal and economic recovery, the financing required for research and reconstruction were limited – there was no dearth, however, of solutions to address the issues. With intensive engagement and a wholehearted desire to make the museum more than it had ever been before, the pioneers at AMI overcame the constraints of the time and, following a more than decade-long struggle, succeeded in 1961 in securing the restitution to AMI of important archaeological material that had been carted off as the spoils of war by a capitulating Italy. Along with material collected over the years at new sites across Istria, the returned artefacts were incorporated into our first permanent exhibition – methodical in its conception and comprehensive in its detail, it raised the bar in Pula’s museological history and pooled the efforts – from 1968 to 1973 – of the already mentioned specialists and of preparators Galliano (1961) and Ida (1969) Zanko, Ljerka Krleža (1965) and the carpenters and masonry workers of the AMI workshop. They established permanent stone (the lapidarium), prehistoric, Roman and medieval period exhibitions adhering to all specialist criteria and in line with regulations covering systematisation, protection, labelling and lighting. Laboratory staff, broadened to include Jolanda Bilić (1969), Majda Petelin (1970), Josip Ferri (1973), Hana Filiplić (1977), Jadranka Homoky (1979) and Aldo Monfardin (1980), enlarged and saw to the upkeep of the exhibitions in the 1970s and 1980s, and in particular during the Homeland War, when the museum collections had to be dismantled and stored in a safe location to protect them from possible damage. The laboratory was joined at the time by restorer Slobodan Božičković (1993) and later by museum preparator Zoran Grbin (1999). These years also saw the discovery of many sites on land and in the waters surrounding the peninsula, leading to the further expansion of the museum’s staff. Excavations and publication of new insights gained through analysis of historical remains by archaeologists of the next generation, curators Vesna Girardi Jurkić (1968), Kristina Mihovilić (1974), Fina Juroš (1974), Robert Matijašić (1979), Klara Buršić (1981) and Željko Ujčić (1984), have contributed to the development and popularisation of the Archaeological Museum of Istria, which has, over the years, emerged as a leading regional institution. During these years the people at AMI have created exhibitions and archaeological zones in situ at many locations in the city and, in parallel, have led excavation campaigns in the city and across all of Istria. The results of our work are regularly promoted by way of publication in domestic and foreign specialist and scientific journals and through domestic and travelling exhibitions that garnered great interest in the country and abroad. Archaeologists Tatjana Bradara (1994), Kristina Džin (1989), Romuald Zlatunić (1996), Alka Starac (1989), Darko Komšo (2000), Ida Koncani (2005), Maja Čuka (2007), Silvana Petešić (2008) and Aska Šopar (2016) were hired in the years that followed. In the development of this domain their motivated and passionate contribution as researchers continues to broaden the horizons of our archaeological knowledge, unravelling the labyrinthine structure of the area’s culture and history.

Administrative table of museum staff with profile and number of employees in the first years of the existence and activity of the Archaeological Museum of Istria. 



Employees of the Archaeological Museum of Istria during the archaeological excavation on the site Campus Martius (present-day Ministry of the Interior) in Pula, January 1986 (photo by: Željko Ujčić, Robert Matijašić).


Setting up part of the permanent exhibition (seen in the photograph are Ida Zanko, Boris Baćić and Galliano Zanko), 1970 (photo by: Alojz Orel).


A pillar in the development of our core activity is our specialist library, now constituted as the Library Department, which also faced the task of the restitution of its holdings following the opening of the museum in 1947. Working in the library from the start were Marija Čakić (1970), Višnja Kuzmanović (1985), Adriana Gri Štorga (1993) and Milena Špigić (2009). The museum made great strides in the 1970s when, at the initiative of Vesna Girardi Jurkić, it launched its own publishing activity (five series and monographs and one journal), paving the way to exchanges with other related institutions, which further broadened the library holdings. Today it is the proud holder of a growing fund of almost 47 000 volumes.


Front page of the first issue of the publication Monographs and Catalogues as the accompanying catalogue for the first exhibition intended to be displayed abroad.


The Documentation Department, tasked with collecting and inventorying secondary museum documentation, is now also working on the digitalisation of the old and new inventory. For specialists and the public at large it archives material classified into collections of photography, photographic negatives, filmstrips & photographic slides, field report records, plans, documentation drawings, media archives, prints, postcards, publishing activity, exhibitions, special events and documents related to the museum’s founding and history. Ondina Krnjak (1985) served as the first head of department, formed in 2009 under the institution’s new Statutes, through to her retirement in 2016 when Katarina Zenzerović (2007) took over the post. Working in the department today are documentalist Irena Buršić (2005) and museum technicians Ivo Juričić (2002) and Davorka ŽufićLujić (2006).


Examples from holdings stored in the Documentation Department of the Archaeological Museum of Istria (postcards, slides, colour photo negatives, glass photo negative).


The laboratory and its staff provide ongoing specialist support – initially a basic workshop, it has now developed as an independent Conservation-Restoration Department possessing a wealth of experience and a broad knowledge base. The department performs primary treatment of material coming in from excavations, protection, restoration, constant monitoring of the state of monuments and provides logistic support in setting up thematic exhibitions. In 2002 the preparation workshop was joined by restorers Đeni Gobić-Bravar (head of department since 2006), Andrea Sardoz and, in 2006, by Monika Petrović who, as the youngest members of the Conservation-Restoration Department, are introducing new insights, implementing them into their work. They are also actively broadening their own education and are proactive in their participation in specialist workshops and symposia.

The Education Department was created to respond to the need of raising public awareness of the importance of preserving cultural heritage for future generations. We find evidence of nascent educational activity in archived correspondence from the 1950s when director Baćić submitted a proposal to school principals asking that they provide instruction to their pupils aimed at preventing vandalism of monuments in the area around the building. Following on the proposal a teaching unit was created in 1985 as the first official department tasked with directly working with visitors to familiarise them with various aspects of history and archaeology. Under the leadership of Vesna Girardi Jurkić (1969), Ljubica Širec (1985) and Giulia Codacci Terlević (2004) the department has grown into an important educational and promotional branch of AMI’s public activity. It now stages regular exhibitions that aim to present the work of the institution and publishes the accompanying catalogues

 Front page of the first issue of the catalogues of the Teaching Unit, later renamed the Education Department.

Processing of stone monuments in the preparation workshop of the Archaeological Museum of Istria (seen in the photograph are Galliano and Ida Zanko), 1970 (photo by: Alojz Orel). 

 Cultural monument protection during the Homeland War: Arch of the Sergii covered with wooden boards in September 1991 (photo by: Željko Ujčić).

Students of the Šijana elementary school visiting the old Croatian cemetery in Žminj, 1950s (photo by: Ljubica Horvat).

Educational workshop within the project Šandalja I: students of the Veruda elementary school and curator Darko Komšo, 2010. 



The institution’s developmental orientation reflects the concepts of the people who stood at its helm. In this regard the director makes a key contribution to the shaping of the museum as a whole. In the seventy years since its inception AMI has developed under the directorships of Boris Baćić (1947–1967), Branko Marušić (1967–1978), Vesna GirardiJurkić (1979–1991), Robert Matijašić (1991–1994), Željko Ujčić (1996–2001), Kristina Mihovilić (1995 and 2002–2006), Kristina Džin (2006–2008) and, from 2009 to the present, Darko Komšo.

The Archaeological Museum of Istria is, however, more than its archaeological material, its conservation work for future generations, fieldwork, educational and print materials, documentation and exhibitions – AMI is made up of all the people that form the interwoven fabric of museum activity. Certainly noteworthy is the work of those whose activity takes place behind the scenes but is nevertheless essential to the functioning of the museum in its present form. These are secretaries Sunčica Vrbanić Peruško (2007) and Nevenka Dadić (2011); accounting department staff members Roberto Stefanutti (head of accounting, 2007), Gabriela Mudrić (2001) and Jasna Božić (2003); our technicians Milan Stanić (head technician, 2001), Valter Puhalj (2003), Admir Dizdarević (2009), Dario Cetina (2016), Verica Kolovrat (2008) and Antonija Mazalović (2012); and the sales staff and porters at our various detached sections Sonja Kirac (1996), Alenka Matijaš (head, 2015),  Karmen Dejković (2001), Anita Ritoša (1994), Jasenka Plančić Brozić (2009), Jasna Halilagić (2017) and Andrea Štreleger (2015).

Today the museum employs a staff of 57. In its seventy years the institution has burgeoned into the leading regional body of its kind, thanks also to people not mentioned here. These people also gave their contribution and helped in the inception and development of the museum: our now retired former employees, seasonal workers, interns and – dear to our memories – those who have forever departed. We extend a heartfelt thanks to them all.

Poster for the opening of the Sacred Hearts Museum Gallery, 2011. 


Underwater archaeological research at the site Cape Kamenjak (Premantura) – Cove Debeljak, 2017 (photo by: Loïc Damelet (CNRS, Centre Camille Jullian)).




1.) “Records and Deliberations”, Inv. no. AMI-IZD-2/196


2.) Pula, SUP, zone B: South facing view of the excavation, January 1986, photo: Željko Ujčić and Robert Matijašić, Inv. no. AMI-FN-21944 (Bibliography: MATIJAŠIĆ, R. 1991, Campus Martius. Roman Necropolis Between Premanturska and Medulinska Street in Pula (excavations 1985 – 1986), Monografije i katalozi 8, Archeological Museum of Istria, p. 12, Fig. 2, Pula)

3.) Balsamarium Site: Pula, Campus Martius (Field of Mars) Site, cinerary grave 11 Datation: late 1st century Material: glass Location (collection): Archeological Museum of Istria, Pula, Inv. no. AMI-A-10939 Dimension: height 14 cm; diameter 8.2 cm Weight: 187,11 g g 


4.) Poster for the opening of the Sacred Hearts Museum Gallery, 2011., graphic design: Mauricio Ferlin, Inv. no. AMI-IZD-26/2011

5.) Invitation to the opening of the Istria, The Lion and the Eagle exhibition, 2015, graphic design: Noel Mirković,  Inv. no. AMI-IZD-23/2015

6.) Sketches for assembling prefabricated showcases as preparation for setting up one of the exhibitions of the Archaeological Museum of Istria, author Galliano Zanko, 1980s

7.) Video segments on the work of the Archaeological Museum of Istria for HTV Croatian Television educational Programming


JURKIĆ, V. 1987. Izdavaštvo Arheološkog muzeja Istre u Puli, Katalog 32, Pula.

MATIJAŠIĆ, R. 1994. Arheološki muzej Istre u Puli 1902-1982, Histria archaeologica, 13-14, Pula.

UJČIĆ, Ž. 2002. Tisućljeća u stoljeću. Povodom stogodišnjice Arheološkog muzeja Istre, Monografije i katalozi 12, Arheološki muzej Istre, Pula.

ZENZEROVIĆ, K. 2012. Prošlost za budućnost. Izložbena djelatnost Arheološkog muzeja Istre 1902. – 2012. Uz 110. obljetnicu Muzeja, Monografije i katalozi 20, Arheološki muzej Istre, Pula.

KRNJAK, O. (ur.) 2014. Studijski dan u čast arheologa Maria Mirabelle Robertija (1909. – 2002.), Monografije i katalozi 24, Arheološki muzej Istre, Pula.

70 years of the Archaeological Museum of Istria – the story of the people at Archaeological Museum of Istria 

 Exhibition Carrarina ul. 4, Pula

Window to the Past 24.11.2017. – 24.1.2018.

Exhibition and text author by: Ivana Belušić

 Organizer and publisher:  Arheološki muzej Istre 

For the organizer and publisher: Darko Komšo

 Editorial Board:  Darko Komšo, Adriana Gri Štorga, Katarina Zenzerović

Set up & graphic design:  Vjeran Juhas

 Technical set up of the exhibition:  Monika Petrović

 Translation in Italian:  Elis Barbalich-Geromella

English translation:  Neven Ferenčić, Irena Buršić

Proofs: Adriana Gri Štorga, Milena Špigić, Katarina Zenzerović, Sunčica Vrbanić Peruško

Print:  MPS Pula

 No. of copies: 700

Pula, 2017.

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