The Slovenia Times

Piran Maritime Museum turns 70

Piran Maritime Museum. Photo: Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 2.0

The Sergej Mašera Maritime Museum has updated one of its permanent collections at its central location in the 19th century Gabrielli Palace in the seaside town of Piran as part of the celebrations of its 70th anniversary this year during which the museum will also feature in sailing regattas.

The updated collection provides an overview of the history of fishing and the fish processing industry from the mid-19th century to the 1990s, when Slovenia's marine fisheries faced a severe crisis. The museum also has a fishing collection in Izola, so this one centres mostly on Piran, curator Nadja Terčon said.

On display are exhibits, photographs and models of fishing vessels, nets and other equipment, along with prints from a 1797 French encyclopedia depicting fishing techniques around Europe.

As part of the presentation of the fish processing industry, Terčon particularly highlighted the testimonies of female workers at the canneries.

By updating the collection the museum wanted to put more focus on fishing, which is losing its place as an industry that provides income for a large part of the population.

In a written address to the opening of the exhibition on 20 February, the chair of the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Mitja Bricelj noted the decline of Slovenia's fisheries. The annual fish catch has dropped to 1% of what it was in 1990.

The fishing collection is just one of several at the museum's headquarters at the Gabrielli Palace. Others feature a range of exhibits, from archaeological finds, to ship models from an 18th century workshop, figureheads and votive images, and marine paintings.

Its exhibitions shed light on seamanship and culture in the period of the Republic of Venice, on Slovenian seamen, the shipbuilding industry in Piran, and Slovenian shipowners in Trieste and Rijeka.

The museum also operates a salt-making museum in Sečovlje, an ethnological collection in a typical Istrian stone-built house at the village of Sveti Peter and the Monfort exhibition ground at an old salt warehouse near Portorož.

The museum also keeps a renovated M6 cutter. The sailboat Galeb (Seagull), was bequeathed to the museum in 1994 by the internationally-acclaimed ballet dancers Pia and Pino Mlakar, who had the boat made to celebrate the birth of their daughter Veronika in 1936.

The Galeb will appear in at least four regattas to promote the museum as part of its 70th anniversary celebrations.

Another event to mark the occasion will be a an international symposium on Sergej Mašera, the naval officer after whom the museum is named, and his peer Milan Spasić. Members of the Yugoslav royal navy, the pair sacrificed their lives blowing up a destroyer to prevent it being handed over to the Italian forces as the naval army capitulated at the start of WWII.

The Serbian embassy, several partners from Montenegro and museums at the Adriatic coast will take part in the symposium, according to the museum manager Franco Juri.

The Piran museum will also host exhibitions by maritime museums in Croatia's Umag and Pula, while its exhibition on Slovenian ships and seafaring will visit Split and Rijeka in Croatia and Kotor in Montenegro.

More from Culture