I have just discovered his gorgeous home. Go with me and I will tell who is he and did how he end up here 😀
In October 2007 I visited the Archaeological Museum of Zagreb for the very first time. The Museum was hosting a sensational, one-item temporary exhibition at that time.
That exhibition was traveling from one side to another and I caught it in that Museum. As a first year student of the History of Art, I was studying the art of Classical Antiquity during that semester. The one-item exhibition I’m talking about really contained one item – a bronze statue of a Greek Athlete.
Bronze is a precious material. Invented as a perfect metal for tools and army, it quickly turned out to be a luxury material. The way cultures and empires changed, the new monarchs were ordering their own pieces of art and equipment. So old bronze statues were usually melted down in order to give material for desired new forms. There were even cases of fake bronze (ouch!).
Bronze statues survived from Classical Antiquity until our days are very rare. But this one survived.
A Belgian photographer and a real Joy of Discovery
Mali Lošinj is a picturesque town situated on the island of Lošinj, one of about 60 inhabited islands of the Croatian coast. Personally, I really love that place. I enjoy the green landscapes, pine forests, colorful architecture and tasty food served in local restaurants. The town has several beautiful palaces built on the waterfront, while the whole island today is a high-quality holiday destination with numbers of newly revamped hotels.
About 20 years ago, a Belgian underwater photographer whose name is Rene started arriving in the nearby village Veli Lošinj, in order to capture the most stunning pictures of the Adriatic flora and fauna. He was walking around the village and asking local people where to find the most beautiful underwater landscapes and he was receiving different answers. By trying to visit many sides of the island, he accidentally discovered a strange object lying in the sand, covered by algae. After taking more careful observations over it, he figured out that it was an ancient statue!
Long story short, this incredible discovery had a long procedure to be taken from the sea, restores, exposed in various museums in Croatia and beyond, to finally, after 17 years, get his own *home* on “his” island.
So I visited the museum in the very first months of its operation. The one-item traveling exhibition turned out to be a one-item museum. This museum really contains one object – the Athlete.
Visiting the Museum – The Athlete’s Home
The museum is not hard to find. One of the town’s beautiful palaces was selected to host the Athlete. You will easily find it at the waterfront, decorated with this carefully selected blue color.
The entrance fee is 75 HRK (10 EUR) and there are some discounts for certain groups. I promise you that it’s worthwhile because it’s a really, really fun experience! All the visits are guided and the whole path is previously thought – you cannot go randomly from one side to another, but you will remain concentrated on the steps of this experience.
First of all, let’s get involved into the story about the statue’s discovery and restorations. The Blue Room (pictures above) is designed to provide a sort of underwater feeling – a bit cold, dark and painted in blue, with light effects. I really loved the second step – a room fully covered in soft carpets (floors, walls, and the roof!), a place to sit down and watch the movie about the Athlete. This is your moment to figure out how we know that the statue is an Athlete! I call that room the “Soft Room” and it can also be called “relaxing room”.
There is something that I will call «Newspaper Room», with walls covered by everything that Croatian and foreign media ever wrote about this unique story.
The main journey starts with a wooden staircase, but not only stairs are covered with wood. The whole space is wooden and contains details inserted into the walls. I will not tell you which kind of wood is that, but you will be fully surprised when you discover it!
The entrance to the main Athlete’s Room is situated on the top of these stairs. Before entering the room, you will have some opportunity to see the Athlete through some little windows. Inside the Statue Room, it’s not allowed to take photos. However, thanks to these little windows, taking a selfie with the Greek Athlete is still possible!
The statue room is completely white. You can observe the statue and notice the difference between the side that was lying on the sand and the side that the algae had covered. Do you understand why it’s not allowed to take pictures? You need to understand that the statue is more than 2000 years also and that the works of restorations had to be very delicate. So only about 20 persons are allowed to be inside the White Room at the same time. Imagine a group trying to take a perfect selfie for more that half an hour, and lines in front of the room. It wouldn’t work out, can you see? 🙂
After the Statue Room – just relax and enjoy the views over Mali Lošinj and the mirror effects. Here you are perfectly allowed to take as many pictures as you might dream!
How to get there?
Lošinj is an island in Croatia, a part of the so-called Northern Adriatic Islands. If you are planning to travel to Croatia you can easily plan a bus trip from Zagreb or Rijeka, directly to Mali Lošinj. If you opt for a road trip (renting a car), notice that there are two ferry lines available, and both will first take you to the island of Cres, connected with Lošinj by a small bridge (the two islands are really close to each other, the bridge is only about 100 meters long). One ferry line is perfect for people coming from Rijeka or Zagreb, while other works best for people who are based in the Istria region.
Furthermore, Lošinj is a great holiday destination, while on the other hand, it can be a perfect day trip if you are, for instance, staying in the nearby Rijeka, Opatija, or Krk island, or if you are doing a Croatian tour. Many day trips organized by agencies are available.
Mali Lošinj is the main town of the island. All the bus lines and organized tours will take you primarily to Mali Lošinj.
If you have any specific questions, feel free to contact me 🙂