June 6, 2020 – The 140th-anniversary celebrations for The Museum of Arts and Crafts, (MUO, Muzej za Umjetnost i Obrt), which started on 17th February were interrupted by a strong 5.5 magnitude earthquake. Croatian Americans decided to help.
The MUO Museum sustained considerable damages from the March 22nd Zagreb earthquake on that Sunday morning. The series of aftershocks caused considerable damages to the building and its artwork. The building has three severely damaged zones: the south wing corridor in the first and second floors, the extension along the north wall of the south wing, and the southwest corner of the mezzanine on the main staircase between the ground and the first floor. The MUO Museum sustained architectural damages but also many objects and artifacts of value and importance for the cultural heritage of Zagreb, Croatia, and beyond were also damaged. In the efforts on deciding to help Zagreb with the earthquake damages, the National Federation of Croatian Americans Cultural Foundation leadership decided it was best to focus on our group’s contribution to MUO. Our strong relationship with MUO Museum dates back to December 2017, in a ceremony, where the museum put on display “Madonna and Child”, a major work by Dalmatian-Venetian painter Andrea Schiavone (also known as Andrija Medulić), which was donated to the NFCACF by Dr. Dinko Podrug, and is now leased to the museum. Fortunately, the painting and two other NFCACF-donated items remained undamaged.
Andrija Medulic Schiavone Painting: Bogorodica S Djetetom
On April 2nd, the NFCACF started a modest fundraising drive to promptly gather and send to MUO, by appealing to NFCACF members to send a tax-deductible donation to NFCACF, with a note for the “MUO Earthquake Fund”. It was good news that one NFCACF supporter extended $5,000 of matching funds to jumpstart our effort on April 4th. The NFCACF raised funds from the group’s quarterly newsletter that was sent to all our members, 300 personal emails, and through Facebook outreach. It was recognized that the MUO Art Museum had urgent needs for these funds to prevent further damage and to start with the needed restoration.
The NFCACF President Steve Rukavina proudly stated that “We are pleased to announce that we raised $21,000 US dollars for our NFCACF-MUO Relief Fund.” It should be noted that all funds will be spent to clean, repair, and perform maintenance to protect and enhance the Museum’s art collections. We would like to acknowledge that major donations for this MUO Art Museum relief fund were received from Dr. Dinko Podrug, from Peter and Jessica Frankopan and The Staples Trust and from Kresimir Penavic and his AIC Foundation and from one anonymous donor.
The NFCACF will host it 27th Annual Assembly of Delegates June 5-6 and the public webinar session on June 6th will include featured guest speakers: US Ambassador Bob Kohorst, Croatian Ambassador Pjer Simunovic, former US Senator Mark Begich and Croatian Fraternal Union President Ed Pazo and MUO Art Museum Director Miroslav Gasparovic. This year’s assembly will be all virtual meetings and on June 5th, Croatian Americans will host a “Happy Hour” as a fundraiser for Croatia’s Special Olympics.
Mark Plavetic, the NFCACF 2020 Rudy Perpich Summer Fellow is a co-author of this article.
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