Almost twenty years after the statue was found in the sea, Apoxyomenos has returned home.
The Apoxyomenos Museum, dedicated to the ancient bronze statue of an athlete found in the sea near the island of Lošinj, was opened in the Kvarner Palace in Mali Lošinj by Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, reports Večernji List on May 1, 2016.
The President said that the Apoxyomenos became a part of the identity of Mali Lošinj and the Adriatic, just like some other famous statues are part of the identity of cities like London and Paris, where they are now located in museums. She added that the return of Apoxyomenos to Lošinj was a demonstration of Croatian scientific and expert knowledge, since Croatian conservators, restorers, architects and museum professionals proved their high level of expertise. This museum is one of the best certificates of Croatian excellence”, said the President.
Among those who were responsible for the return of Apoxyomenos to Lošinj, the President especially emphasized former Culture Minister Božo Biskupić, adding that he supported the efforts of the Mayor of Mali Lošinj Gari Cappelli and of many others who advocated for the return of Apoxyomenos to Lošinj.
Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegović said that the Culture Ministry and the Croatian Conservation Institute took care of the Apoxyomenos since it was found in the sea, and added that more than 100 experts were involved in the process. He stressed that the quality of restoration and conservation work had brought to the Conservation Institute a valuable prize for the protection of cultural heritage at the European level.
Mayor Gari Cappelli pointed out that the museum provided a contribution to the development of Lošinj as a year-round tourist destination. Lošinj has been positioned as an island of vitality, and Apoxyomenos opens up the possibility of new tourist projects. “The fight for the return of Apoxyomenos to Lošinj was a contribution to the systematic branding of Lošinj as an important part of the Croatian cultural tourism”, said the Mayor.
The statue of Apoxyomenos represents a young athlete at the moment of cleaning (scraping) his body, and is so far the only large bronze figure found on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. The statue is 192 centimetres tall, weighs 300 kilograms and was found in 1997 by Belgian diver and amateur photographer Rene Wauters, at a depth of 45 metres between the island of Vele Orjule and the east coast of Lošinj. It was lifted from the seabed on 27 April 1999. During the restoration, the statue was dated to the 2nd or 1st century BC.