December the 18th, 2023 – Croatia is packed full of history, culture, tradition and heritage, but not every museum is full of ancient artefacts, Roman finds and art. Here are five unusual Croatian museums worth visiting.
The Hangover Museum
I’m sure everyone is familiar with that feeling “the morning after” when you wake up and feel as if you’ve done a few rounds with Tyson and then been hit with a sledgehammer. The physical symptoms aren’t even the half of it. Then comes what’s known as hangxiety, the part of your hungover brain which is convincing you that you must have embarrassed yourself royally. Filling in the blank gaps from your memory with the most embarrassing things possible is an unavoidable part of the hangover “experience”. Before you know it, you’re apologising for showing 200 photos of your dog to someone you’ve just met before crying about something your ex boyfriend from 15 years ago said.
While hangxiety does fade with time, why not empower ourselves a little and all have a laugh and a cringe instead of feeling ashamed? As long as you’re not getting in such states often, it’s really not worth beating yourself up over. Most of us have been there. A museum dedicated to hangovers can be found in Zagreb, and some of the stories there will definitely make you feel better about murdering Celine Dion on the karaoke machine nine pints deep.
Showcasing hilarious and downright embarrassing stories about being drunk and/or hungover from across the world, this quirky Zagreb museum will put your mind at ease. You can even leave them your own story to be shown to the world, and collectively, we can all be a bit kinder to our (definitely never drinking again) selves.
The Museum of Broken Relationships
From the funny to the downright sad, the Museum of Broken Relationships is a very popular central Zagreb museum that always attracts people of all ages and from all walks of life. No matter how different we all are, from culture to language and from religion to customs, our collective human experiences with connection and love, be it romantic love or otherwise, bind us.
Hilarious items and stories from young love turned sour to tragically sad final letters left to a deceased child, pieces of the clothes of old flames and even an almost 30 year old scab (yes, scab!) from the motorcycle accident of someone’s loved one can be seen at this museum.
This museum is poignant reminder that life goes on despite loss, and genuine tragedy is mixed in with the somewhat amusing side of relationships going awry. A visit here is sure to remind you of that boy you were “in love with” back when you were a teen in the throes of hormonal hell, and at the same time it will remind your now mature self to your love to those you care for, because one never knows what’s around the corner.
The Selfie Museum
The Museum of Selfie and Memories is a Zagreb museum dedicated to the type of cult photography of our time – the selfie. Some brand it narcissistic, others call it self-expression. Whatever it is, I’m sure we’ve all taken them, posted them, and got an embarrassing amount of practice shots backing up our phone’s memories. Already present in Los Angeles, New York and also down south in Dubrovnik, the Zagreb location is popular among visitors from all over the world.
All kinds of strange and utterly different settings are available for selfies to be taken in, even the so-called Pink Prison, if you misbehave…
The Red History Museum
Ever wanted to jump into a time machine and head back not to ancient times when plagues or Roman conquests would threaten your life, but to just a few decades ago? The 20th century was marked by tremendous political upheaval across Europe, with different ideologies coming and going and the political tide forever changing.
The Republic of Croatia, now an independent country following its hard battle fought back during the 1990s, is one of the European countries to have been shoved from pillar to post in the political sense. From communism to fascism and then back again (well, sort of), Croatia has had plenty of residents who were born here, lived their lives here, and died here, yet were citizens of different nations throughout time.
The Red History Museum, located in Dubrovnik, takes you back to how life in Croatia was when the country was the Socialist Republic of Croatia – part of the defunct experiment of a country called Yugoslavia. Taking you through life as it was then, you’re free to see what was in the cupboards, drawers and homes of a Croatian household in Yugoslavia. Registered as a rare private museum, it brings to light not only life in Yugoslavia, but explains and showcases precisely how and why the entire thing went up in flames, resulting in bitter wars across the former state, including the Homeland War (Croatian War of Independence).
A neutral tribute to a time many prefer to forget or at least not discuss – for fear of awakening the divide and tension that is still strongly felt over 30 years later – the Red History Museum is actually located in an old socialist factory building. Of all of the unusual Croatian museums, this one explores how Croatia developed from a socialist Yugoslav republic into the EU, NATO, Eurozone and Schengen nation it is today. It will shed light on the often confusing history of this very special and tenacious country.
The Mushroom Museum
This is undoubtedly one of the most unusual Croatian museums, and it appeals to nature lovers and those wanting to preserve what we have. If you’re a forager, or you just love fungi and mushrooms, then this Zagreb museum is the place to go for you. With very interesting exhibits of mushrooms, both edible and highly poisonous, you’ll learn more about the mysterious organism that appears in so many fables and fairy tales. These freeze-dried specimens showcase Croatian biodiversity as well as teach you a thing or two about which can be placed next to your steak and which absolutely shouldn’t ever be.
You can even get up close and personal with the infamous Death Cap (Amanita phalloides), the consumption of which is a medical emergency. Consuming this mushroom can involve liver transplantation, so it is incredibly important to know how to identify this otherwise rather unassuming organism from the world of mycology.