Museum Night or Night at the Museum?

This kind of museum night has no many similarities with the movie called Night At the Museum. Still, the feeling about walking through the city from museum to museum at night gives some of the same mystical feeling.

Museum Night - Noć Muzeja 2019 MUO Zagreb
How Wall Painting restoration works? The guy on the left side is also wondering 🙂

Would I call it party at the museum? Perhaps. In every single country there is a night like that once per year. In Croatia it occurs in the last Friday of January, or at the first day of February, as a Friday happened to be this year. 

At the Museum Night, every or almost every museum in the country has something interesting to offer. Sometimes it’s a special program, or at least there are some nice exhibitions. Every year there is a main topic, however not every museum joins that precise idea. 

The main idea is obviously that museums are opened until after midnight and offer free entrance to all visitors.

Why is the Museum Night such an interesting thing?

The Museum Night has been held in Croatia for over a decade. Throughout that time, it became a new “museum holiday” kind of thing, or time when most people actually go to museums. 

In other words, it has become something like Christmas, or New Year, or Valentine’s Day, or Women’s Day, or Labour Day, or Earth Day. Or any other significant day you can imagine. Population gets used to that day/night as being a moment to celebrate museums.

That in turn, museums do receive a lively, festive atmosphere on that night. Special programs make it even more intense, and something most visitors will remember. 

My Museum Night Journey

I was in Zagreb, the capital. My first stop was Croatia’s largest museum, the Museum of Arts and Crafts (in Croatian: Muzej za Umjetnost i Obrt). This is a cozy and simple National Museum that holds a huge collection of all kind of creative human activities, from religious arts and pieces of furniture from 14th to 21st century to photography and textile. 

I once worked at that museum as an exhibition guide. I was only 20 years old and very playful. Perhaps I considered that museum to be my own playground. Giving lots of lively guided tours from school children and elderly people, for locals and tourists, was the definition of my job. I know very well how that museum starts shining when a night comes and there are special programs inside. For being the country’s most illustrious museum, it doesn’t turn on only for the Museum Night.

Still, when the Museum Night comes, the level of creativity inside gets bigger. I bought this bag for a kind price. I didn’t know what was inside. When I opened it, I discovered some nice content. I will write more about it in one of my next posts.

Fun for Children and bigger Children

I only needed a few steps further before I reached my next destination. It’s the Croatian Schooling Museum, or in other words, a museum that tells you a story about the history of schooling in Croatia. It’s so cool because it presents how classrooms used to look, how school manuals once looked like, and also how the school systems has evolved throughout the years. 

Moreover, the museum organised nice programs for children that night. It was full of families with school children who were often told by their parents “you know, in the past teachers were very strict, not nice like they are today when you misbehave!”. 

Nowadays everything has to be attractive. Everything needs to be “exciting”, “beautiful”, “make you happy”, etc. 

Now, look at these books:

Croatian Schooling Museum - Noć Muzeja 2019 Museum Night
School book the way they used to be.

Yeah, going to school used to be a reason to be happy. School book didn’t need to be “attractive” or “exciting to read”. When schools became opened to everyone, it was a big social improvement. Nowadays in Europe, people take schools for granted. Some of them even go that far to say that schools only spread some propaganda and prevent you from thinking freely. 

Everyone is happy when learning new things…

Seriously, how can one be unhappy when learning new things? People are not born intelligent, they develop to become intelligent. That’s why I think museums can do a great job in making people happy while learning.

I needed to go up to the upper part of the city to visit another lovely museum. A lesser known, small museum, called Croatian Museum of Naive Art. What is the “Naive Art”? In easy words, it’s an art made by amateur or “village” artists. Sometimes it just reveals the beauty of the way some regular people see the world. It also contains the whole new dimension of creativity encouraged outside the academic circles.

So is school that important? *thinking*

It seems that every single person enjoys learning new things, regardless of the place where it happens. People just don’t like to feel stressed about learning, that’s why children in Europe don’t like to go to school. I say it’s also the reason why many people procrastinate and delay their decisions to visit museums.

The Museum Night erases that stress or fear.

Learning about your local history?

While doing my regular writing and blogging activity, I already got criticised for promoting traveling, because some people can’t afford to travel. Well, I know that many can’t! But, what about the fact that many of them don’t visit their local museums?

Is it possible that they can’t afford a museum ticket? That’s already a point when I start disagreeing, especially when talking about the life in European countries. Museum tickets may cost far less than a coffee or tea in a bar, let alone an alcoholic drink. Still, many people with average income go to bars. 

Many people also travel a lot. They have visited something like Louvre or British Museum, Prado or Vatican Museums, but they haven’t visited that museum that is the closest to their homes.

Museum of Naive Art

The Museum Night brings local people to museums, above all. It has almost nothing to do with travel or tourism.

Anyway, I saw a few tourists at the Zagreb City Museum. 

This is a pearl that doesn’t shine enough. A city museum with a rich collection of the history of politics and everyday life in the city. If I ever told you (which I did) that visits to museums help everyone getting answers to questions about places, it’s something I will be repeating.

That museum doesn’t use much technology and doesn’t use a lot of fun ways to grab visitors’ attention. During that Museum Night, the atmosphere inside was magical anyway. But in the regular days, it may be a little sad place for people who are not avid museum goers. Still, that museum is so cool and emotional!

Muzej Grada Zagreba - Muzeum Night 2019
At the hairdresser’s place in the early 20th century. Zagreb City Museum.

Can’t skip… what?

When it was almost midnight and I was already feeling a little bit tired, I passed by the Archaeological Museum. This museum has some of the worthiest treasures among all the Croatian museums.

There is a rare Etruscan mummy in the collection along with the textile that covered the mummy. There is a very little evidence about anything related to Etruscan culture that existed before the Roman era at the area of today Tuscany, therefore the value of this item.

Apart from that, the Archaeological Museum has quite a big collection and exhibition area. There was a temporary exhibition on the first floor, and it started with a beautiful photo of – Lisbon! I mean, Portugal uses a slogan “can’t skip Portugal” for their touristic campaign. The truth is, you can’t skip Portugal anywhere.

Still, although I lived in Portugal for long 3 years, I have never visited the place the exhibition was about. It’s the Coa Valley, the place where some of the earliest examples of pre-historic art outside the caves were found. The exhibition’s central objet was a huge plastic maquette of a rock with engravings.

A long, long night…

People looked happy in all these museums. Suddenly, no one felt stressed or tense of going to a museum. Everyone was feeling like sitting in a bar, or children like playing with their toys. 

To conclude that night, I also visited the Academy of Fine Arts. It was an interesting moments after visiting a museum that tells stories about elementary education and another that showcases works of amateur artists. 

The only thing to say after all – there should be more museum nights and moments when people feel relaxed about going to museums !!

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