Facebook live, loading Facebook live, just one more. Two of them are at the same time. After that, I open a new one, looking for more and more museum experiences. Ladies and gentlemen, I am talking about the Museum Night 2021 in Croatia.
It is a completely different world than the Museum Night I assisted in 2019. Traditionally it happens all over Croatia on last Friday of January since 2007, and it had become an iconic museum evening. With museums opened mostly until 1 hour after midnight, free entrance, and many special events, that one evening provides a valuable alternative to just going to a bar on Friday night.
While every small town museum has organised some programs of their own with quite a successful attendance, the frenetic museum atmosphere in Zagreb is a different kind of atmosphere. In other words, it is a powerful experience where even those who usually “don’t like museums” feel perfect.
Last year edition happened smoothly before Covid-19 restrictions became a part of our daily lives. Although museums in Croatia are opened to visitors at the moment, the number of visitors is restricted. As a result, events such as Museum Night can’t happen with visitors on site.
A different kind of experience
Did I mention the difference between small town museums and big museums located in Zagreb? Clearly, you can’t be on two places at the same time. However, when it’s all online, there is some magic in the process. You can be on multiple places at the same time. Isn’t it incredible?
So, last night I was in several parts of Croatia at the same time. Instead of running between different museums in Zagreb, like I did two years ago, I was just switching between different Facebook live videos, Zoom calls, and YouTube premiers.
The Museum of Mountain Hiking in the small town of Ivanec had some cool program. It is only in Croatian, so if you are not from this small cluster of countries of the Balkans it may not mean much to you, but I am sharing it to give it some thumbs up.
Online virtual catalogues
Above all, it doesn’t matter what kind of technology you use. Many museums made some signs of good will just by uploading some materials or creating virtual exhibitions. The Museum Night 2021 in Croatia was all about good will, rather than form or “wow” factor. For instance, the local library in the small town Jelsa on the Southern Croatian island of Hvar posted a high quality catalogue of an exhibition they organised. The exhibition is about one of my favourite topics – the history of language and writing on the island!
The Museum Night 2021 showed new opportunities for enhancing curiosity
One way to know that one museum is really good is if it made you curious. It is the same story as the one about a great teacher who knows how to motivate. For instance, that teacher who made many people study a certain field.
The Technology Museum Nikola Tesla in Zagreb is known for good programs in stimulating the natural curiosity for science. During the virtual Museum Night 2021, the Museum’s curator made a brief introduction to Nikola Tesla’s inventions. As the Museum possesses a rich collection of machines related to Tesla’s experiments, it was quite a cool lecture with occasional thunders!
A Zoom meeting with a curator during the Museum Night
Finally, museum professionals are doing an extensive job in all the possible ways. More than ever, they share their expertise, explain it to the public, and answer our questions.
The City Museum of Varaždin, a beautiful historical town on the North-West of Croatia organised a Zoom meeting between a curator and the curious people. A link to that meeting was available publicly, so only a click was necessary to join it. In other words, there was no any complicated process of registration or so. I joined it for half an hour and I realised it really worked nicely. From children to elderly people, many were asking interesting questions, and the curator had quite a nice informal approach to it. One participant was a girl who is, I guess, not older than 12.
In conclusion, this virtual Museum Night 2021 in Croatia was quite a success in my opinion. These few examples are obviously not the only good initiatives from the museums in Croatia. For example, the Vučedol Culture Museum encouraged virtual visits to their space, as they had developed interesting forms of online content.