At the Celje Regional Museum, we have organised mobility in adult education as part of the Erasmus+ project. I invited two museums to participate, which promote the medieval period in connection with the Celje noble dynasty, the Counts of Celje: Veliki Tabor Castle in Croatia and the Smederevo Museum in Serbia. As part of the project, museum coworkers visited both locations in May and June 2022 and observed that the most popular activity was costumed public tours of their exhibitions. The exchange of good practices is desired, so we decided to conclude our project similarly. In collaboration with the Golden Spur Society from Celje, we organised three costumed tours of the permanent exhibition Counts of Celje in September and October 2022.
Visit to Veliki Tabor Castle – Croatia (29 and 30 april 2022)
At the Veliki Tabor Museum in Desinić, Rada Hriberšek and Enea Bronja Gajšek learned about the stories related to the fascinating and mysterious Veronika of Desenice, who left a mark on the history of both places. Celje and the entire area of Croatian Zagorje have many stories about her, which are used to promote the tourist and cultural offer.
During our visit to Veliki Tabor Castle, they organised a two-day event called Night of Fortresses which is part of the international project Fortitude. Castles and fortresses from Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina all participate in this project. They organise cultural and tourist events in cultural monuments to enrich the year-round offer and bring cultural monuments closer to the broader public.
The programme over both days included a costumed guided tour of the museum exhibitions, a workshop titled The Basics of Drawing Caricatures and Comics with renowned Croatian cartoonist and comic artist Niko Titanik, entertaining and educational workshops such as the Search for a Mysterious Object, Building Veliki Tabor Together, Following in the Footsteps of Veronika of Desenice, the Mysterious Melusina, Creating Stories with Clay, Archery, and a lecture by Renata Dečman: Castles of the Rattkay Family. Both participants actively participated in all the activities prepared for visitors.
They also visited the Old Village Museum in Kumrovec, which is part of the Museum of Croatian Zagorje. Since the Counts of Celje in the 15th century held the title of Bans of Zagorje and ruled in this area, we wanted to learn how people lived in the Zagorje region.
Rada Hriberšek and Davor Mlinarič visited the Smederevo museum in Serbia
Our colleagues from the Smederevo Museum prepared a two-day programme (30 May-2 June) to acquaint us with their work in studying the history of the medieval family of Despot Đurađ Branković, who married his daughter Katarina to the last Count of Celje, Ulrik II of Celje. They also organised two educational workshops: Smederevo Fortress – Journey Through Time and How We Discover the Past – Museum Detective. Visitors could put on medieval costumes at the end of both workshops and take photos in them.
Under expert guidance, we also visited the Smederevo Fortress (former Branković family residence), one of the largest fortresses in Europe. During our visit, they showed us significant medieval remains in Smederevo.
On our own, we also visited the famous medieval Ram Fortress and the archaeological site from the Roman Empire period, Viminacium.
What have we learned and discovered?
- Visitors have started returning to museums after the pandemic.
- We have and will continue better preparing ourselves to bring history, culture and cultural heritage closer to the general public.
- We will collaborate and exchange knowledge and experiences even more concretely in the future.
- We will use the opportunities the EU offers through various connecting projects (Erasmus, Fortitude, Living Castles, etc.) to achieve the goals of greater collaboration.
- Our languages are different and simultaneously very similar – we all refreshed our knowledge of Croatian, Serbian and Slovenian.
- We will have to pay more attention to the figures of Veronika of Desenice and Katarina Branković in our museum – women who had a substantial impact on the events in the history of the Counts of Celje.
- Both museums have found costumed guided tours or the opportunity for visitors to dress up in costumes very attractive. In the Celje Regional Museum, we have three medieval costumes that we should use more frequently in the future.
- With newly acquired knowledge, we have learned to collaborate with external partners (the Golden Spur Society), who participated in the project’s conclusion and the implementation of the costumed tour When the Lords Are Away. These tours were well received by the general public.
- The museum will continue collaborating with the mentioned society. The first results have brought a new collaboration with the Golden Spur Society at the opening of the new temporary exhibition titled The Žovnek Family Becomes the Counts of Celje. New insights have brought long-term cooperation with the Golden Spur Society, which promotes the Middle Ages just as does the local museum. With such collaboration, the mobility participants have completed a new story that will bring added value to the promotion of museum activities.
Davor Mlinarič (firstname.lastname@example.org), Celje Regional Museum