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Vukovar Town Museum

32000 Vukovar
Ul. I. L. Ribara 2
Telephone: 032/51 396
Museum profile: municipal
Founded: 1946

Category of the museum collection: B
Category of the museum building: A
Number of inventoried museum items: 35,000
Number of non-inventoried museum items: 558
Microfilmed museum inventories: yes (in 1974 and 1976)
The Museum was housed in the Eltz manor-house (built in 1749), one of the most beautiful pieces of architectural from the Baroque period in Slavonia.
Through its holdings of tens of thousands of items, the Museum integrally presents the cultural history of Vukovar and the surrounding region. The Museum operates through four museum and gallery institutions: THE MUNICIPAL MUSEUM, THE LAVOSLAV RUZICKA MEMORIAL MUSEUM, THE BAUER COLLECTION AND FINE ARTS GALLERY, THE MEMORIAL HOUSE OF THE SECOND CONGRESS OF THE COMMMUNIST PARTY OF YUGOSLAVIA (Museum of Recent History), and a local ETHNOGRAPHIC COLLECTION OF THE RUSSINES AND UKRAINIANS in the nearby village of Petrovci.
The permanent exhibition of the Municipal Museum had displayed the history of the Vukovar region with items from the palaeonthological and archaeological collections, the cultural history collection (archival materials, weapons, the period of Turkish rule in the 16th and 17th centuries, the forming of the County of Vukovar and Srijem - portraits of county administrators, the county flag from 1797, the period of the Eltz estate from 1763 to 1944, furniture, items of applied art, guilds and craftsmanship, the life of the nobility and the middle classes in the 18th and 19th centuries, a period when Vukovar was an important centre for the trades, for transport, culture and administration), a collection of recent history until the middle of this century, and an ethnographic collection with holdings connected to the rich spiritual and material culture of life in Slavonian villages.
The outstanding items in the library, which holds approximately 12,000 titles, were a collection of rare books and Vukovariensia - books, newspapers and other printed material connected to Vukovar.
The Museum headed extensive archaeological research at the famous archaeological site of Vučedol nearby, where the setting up of a Museum of the Vučedol Culture and an open-air museum were being prepared.From November 1991 to June 1997 the Museum was on the occupied territory of the Republic of Croatia, inaccessible to Croatian museum workers and services for the protection of monuments.


During June and July of 1991 all the Instructions and Decrees of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia concerning the protection of the holdings and the implementation of the provisions of the Hague Convention on marking cultural monuments had been followed through. Due to a lack of packing material, the museum holdings were selectively packed and stored in the safest basement rooms. The most valuable part of the holdings was stored in the underground rooms of the Franciscan monastery. Documentation was stored in metal cupboards.
Evacuation from the town was made impossible already in August of 1991, because all the outgoing roads were occupied. The inventory books were microfilmed in 1976, and copies of the microfilms deposited at the MDC archives). Together with the remaining inhabitants, a part of the museum staff were exiled, and one museum worker, taken prisoner in the occupied town, is even today still listed as a missing person.
Information on the municipal Museum and its holdings during the occupation was obtained through the media and international missions.
*According to a news bulletin broadcast by Radio-Television Belgrade on November 29th 1991 (Tanjug Agency), under the supervision of minister of culture of the Republic of Serbia and the director of the National Library of Serbia, with co-operation of conservators from the Institute for Protection of Monuments of Culture from Belgrade, the process of taking away of the possessions of the Municipal Museum, Bauer Collection and Fine Arts Gallery as well as all the other local collections and the Municipal Library from Vukovar was initiated, and the items were taken in the direction of Belgrade. As the requisition of these cultural goods was contrary to the provisions of the Hague Convention on the protection of cultural monuments in the event of armed conflict, the MDC had on November 29th and December 3rd 1991 notified UNESCO's director general and the UNESCO-ICOM Documentary Centre in Paris about the subject.
* An exhibition entitled "Vukovar 1991 - Genocide against the Cultural Heritage of the Serbian Nation" was put up at the Yugoslav Cultural centre in Paris (May 26th to 29th 1992), showing 84 items stolen from the Municipal Museum and the Bauer Collection. (The exhibition was closed after a couple of days following a protest issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Croatia.)
* According to a report by Dr Colin Kaiser, expert advisor to the Council of Europe, dating from the time of his mission in Croatia in March 1994, the Museum was operating in the Eltz manor, there were 8 employees, and most of the holdings were in the museum, the collection of furniture was in Dalj, and a part of the collections were in Novi Sad. The Eltz manor is now being renovated and the return of a part of the holdings from Dalj and Novi Sad is planned. The Institute for the Restoration and Protection of Monuments is also operating in Vukovar (Report in the MDC archives).
* By the end of 1994 and the beginning of 1995, the ICOM and Council of Europe had organised an exploratory mission for investigating the state of movable monuments of culture from Vukovar, requisitioned during the war. This mission is a sequel to the Mission for investigating the state of museums and galleries in Croatia damaged in the war, which had begun its work in 1993. This mission was, as well as the second mission, organised for ICOM by the MDC.
The mission, headed by H. Ch. von Imhoff, had concluded that a part of the collections and inventory books of the Vukovar Museum are kept at the Municipal Museum and the Museum of Vojvodina in Novi Sad, and in the Vojvodina Archives. Apart from documentary processing of the holdings, restoration procedures are under way on the material, especially the Bauer Collection and ceramic and metal objects.
A smaller part of the holdings is being kept at the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade.
A part of the collections is still in the ruins of Eltz manor in Vukovar, where the renamed "Museum of the Town of Vukovar" operates. According to the statements by the above mentioned museum employees, a larger part of the holdings had been burned in the fire.
The report states that the building housing the Bauer Collection is destroyed, the History Museum is a ruin that has not been cleared up, and the Memorial Museum of the Nobel laureate Lavoslav Ruzička has no roof.
The Vučedol site is also mentioned in the report. The site is neglected, overgrown with bushes and weeds.
Transport lists with data on the items evacuated from Vukovar (holding 1250 items) are being held at the Institute for Protection of Serbian Monuments of Culture in Belgrade.
(The report was published in the IM, 1 / 4, 1994)
After Croatian museum workers had arrived to Vukovar in the middle of 1997, most of the information on the fate of museum buildings and holdings was confirmed.

Building damage:

August 25th and 26th 1991
In the aerial and artillery attack on the town, shell blasts had damaged the facade and roofing of the part of the manor housing the Museum. The other part of the manor was completely destroyed by an aerial bomb.
September 1991
In continuous attacks on the town from air and land, the Eltz manor-house was hit by a series of projectiles, and its middle section, the one that housed the Museum, was bombarded and was on that occasion burned down. The fire had lasted for two days.
November 20th 1991
According to the photographs taken on November 20th 1991 and shown on Croatian Television, a section of the Eltz manor, the part housing the Museum, was completely destroyed.
After In the middle of 1997, after the restoration of Croatian authority and the return of Croatian museum workers to Vukovar, the Eltz manor-house was found to be a ruin exposed to the elements and threatened by further decay. The upper two storeys have no roofing, the roof and ceiling constructions are destroyed and the walls pulled down. The ground floor rooms and one big hall are partially preserved, although heavily damaged, neglected and damp.

Structure damage:

Most of the holdings were stolen from the museum, and are to be found in the museums of Novi Sad and Belgrade, as well as in the Vojvodina Archives and in Dalj.
A part of the museum holdings was probably destroyed in the fire, and a part of the material that suffered heavy damage and lesser damage is to be found beneath the ruins of the manor-house.
The books from the museum library are preserved, as well as a part of the archival material.
A part of works of art from the private collections was discovered in the area and in the building of Museum.

Damaged collection details►

Vukovar Town Museum
The ruins of the Eltz Manor, 8/91
(from MDC's photograph library)

Vukovar Town Museum
The ruins of the Eltz Manor, 8/91
(Photo: M. Kokotovic)

Vukovar Town Museum
The grand salon of the Eltz Manor, 2/95
(Photo: H. C. von Imhoff, Council of Europe, Committee on Culture and Education, Strasbourg)

Vukovar Town Museum
The Museum's permanent collection situated on the first floor of the Eltz Manor, 2/95
(Photo: H. C. von Imhoff, Council of Europe, Committee on Culture and Education, Strasbourg)

Vukovar Town Museum. 

(from MDC's photograph library)








Vukovar Town Museum
The ruins of the Eltz Manor after shelling 25. and 26.08.1991.

(from MDC's photograph library)






Vukovar Town Museum
The ruins of the Eltz Manor, 1992.
(from MDC's photograph library)

Vukovar Town Museum
The ruins of the Eltz Manor, 1992.
(from MDC's photograph library)

Vukovar Town Museum
The ruins of the Eltz Manor, 1992.
(from MDC's photograph library)

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