Every place in every corner of Europe has a kind of local castle or palace, a former noble residence, usually in service of museum today. These monuments/museums provide a cute experience to many children – they can imagine princes and princesses, the way I once gave a tour to a school group of 7-years-olds.
Visiting some kind of historical site is a regular part of most travels. Such experiences are not always beautiful, but in many cases they are highly positive and fulfilling. The Vukovar Municipal Museum is installed into the Eltz Castle/Palace, a monumental building situated right on the Danube’s riverfront.
Eltz is a wealthy German family whose genealogy dates back to the Medieval times. Their descendant are influent still today, but during XIX century most of their members were residing almost exclusively in Vukovar. So they built a splendid house, but continued adding up wings and additional service buildings until the early XX century. They remained there until 1945, where a specific system in the-Yugoslavia started confiscating wealthy people’s properties. There starts the toughest part of this building’s history, ending at the moment when the Yugoslavian Civil War / Croatian Homeland War caused terrible damages to the palace.
I have just wrote a little, very short summary of the building’s history, while the museum tells you the entire, detailed story. Even though there were hard times in this region and in the whole Croatia after the war, the palace was perfectly rebuilt and the museum was completely equipped by the early 2014.
“The Castle Eltz” is the most emblematic building in Vukovar. I feel so happy that its old glory is back. Museum is equipped on a modern way, with many interactive installations and creative design principles, such as floors in glass. Some rooms were decorated the way they used to be before, with a furniture similar to the pieces owned by the noble family.
The Danube is in the Room
But I’ll tell what is the detail I particularly loved. There is a “Roman Empire Room”, within the archaeological department. The line of the Danube is drawn on the floor, as a blue line. It comes to the window, that has a pair of interior shutters making the same form. Upon approaching the window, you can see the view – view to the river.You can see it through a thin opening between the shutters, but the right wing can be opened, with amazing views becoming opened to you.
Related article about the lands around the Danube – 5000 years ago in Europe
Probably you visited various types of City Museums, Regional Museums, National Museums of History etc. which all has more or less the same pattern – from the beginning to the present, departments for archaeology, history, history of art, ethnology, something-contemporary and so on. This is not so similar case because its existence was interrupted and the whole concept needed to be reinvented in order to give the museum back to the people.
For these reasons, the exhibition spaces were designed the fun way. Many topics and issues are serious. This museum is serious. But it doesn’t mean that it should necessarily be monotonous; it should rather be inspirational.
Design and re-Design
When I choose a museum to visit, I first evaluate their website and digital presence, because the best museums are usually keen to find a way to present well their contents. However, I don’t have prejudices, and if a museum does not have a quality digital presence, I look for some pictures of the museum on other websites. The most important criteria is – the exhibition design.
Related article – Design makes difference
In this case, I can say that parts of exhibitions are designed, while others were re-designed, like those antique rooms. I’m amazed with ways how information is organised and represented, so any visitor can remain amused with his or her museum visit. Every department offers a different visiting sensation, and you can become positively surprised with every room you enter – because you did not expect such experience.
The building itself is a kind of heritage, but I say this is a contemporary castle. Come and see, enjoy this beautiful region of Slavonia. If you are planning a road or train trip from Zagreb to Belgrade, or Budapest, you can make a little step aside and visit Vukovar. This is a rather small town, quiet, and remarked with beautiful landscapes of the Danube 🙂