The Slovenia Times

Exhibition on the Kingdom of Illyria project

Jun 6 - Sept 29

The Ljubljana City Museum has mounted an exhibition on the Austrian administrative project Kingdom of Illyria, founded in 1816, which was to succeed Napoleon's Illyrian Provinces.

The Unknown Kingdom - "Illyria or what you will" delves into the story behind the name of Ilyria, which has since become the name of a cycling club in Ljubljana, a street, a football club, and a chemical factory.

The idea for the exhibition was born during restoration works on a 1814 throne given as a present to Count Franz Josef von Saurau, head of a court commission in the Kingdom of Illyria.

Soon those involved in the exhibition project realised that very little is known about the kingdom that was formally founded as a successor state of the Napoleonic Illyrian Provinces, which were reconquered by Austria in the War of the Sixth Coalition.

It was established according to the Final Act of the Vienna Congress. Its administrative centre was in Ljubljana. After the revolutions of 1848, the kingdom was dissolved and split into the Austrian crown lands of Carniola, Carinthia, and the Austrian Littoral.

The exhibits include a set of tarot play cards illustrated by Hinko Smrekar (1883-1942), the ribbons used at the grand opening of the monument to Illyria and Napoleon, and a Bilikum, a special ritual jug used for greeting guests with a toast. The jug has three parts, representing Lech, Czech and Rus', the legendary founders of three Slavic peoples: the Poles, the Czechs, and the East Slavs.

The exhibition also presents the history of the coat-of-arms of the municipality Ilirska Bistrica, which carries Illyria in its name. The municipality used the coat-of-arms of the Kingdom of Illyria, "but it took a few decades for the Austrian state apparatus to find out about this", curator Janez Polajnar said.