Archeological Museum Narona

Hrvoje Manenica

director

Archeological Museum Narona

Vid b.b. 20 352 Vid – Metković

www.a-m-narona.hr

Archeological museum Narona is situated in the village of Vid, some 3 kilometres west from the nearest town of Metković. There are 800 inhabitants in Vid.
Antique Narona was mentioned in Greek inscriptions in the 4th century BC for the first time. During this period, Narona was a market-town and a port. When Romans settled the area, it started to develop rapidly. Walls of the town were being rebuilt and the forum with its buildings was built too. The town was planned and developed according to the Roman rules and laws. In the late Republican era, Narona was the centre of the juridical conventus, an administrative and judicial centre of a wider region. It was probably during the reign of Caesar when Narona developed its status as the Roman colony (colonia Julia). Next to Salona, it was the most important Roman town on the eastern coast of the Adriatic. There were very probably around 50 000 to 60 000 people.

After some archeological exploration on the forum in 1995 and 1996, and discovery of the Roman temple from the 1st century BC, dedicated to the emporer Augustus, with its sixteen statues, it was decided to build a museum on that site. This is a unique discovery in the region of the former Roman empire because it is the only temple which presents the entire review of the Roman imperial cult from its rise and expansion to its fall and demolition at the end of the 4th century. Narona museum was designed as an archeological park and "in situ" museum. It includes the reconstruction of the temple and its surrounding area.

Croatian government officially and publicly invited tenders for the architectural project of the museum. It took two years to built it and the museum was formally opened on the 18th of May, 2007.

Setting of the museum begins with the part which helps visitors to orientate themselves in the locality, both in the historical and geographical scope. For this reason, geographical maps and artistic presentation of antique Narona and today''s region, help visitors in their orientation. In the main hall, there is a reconstruction of Augustus'' temple together with fifteen statues in supernatural size. Some 900 other findings are exhibited in show-cases. It is divided into two parts - according to the localities where they were found and according to those which were found by chance. The latter are grouped according to their original assignment in the topics of everyday-life situations. Artistic presentation functions as an explanation for particular group of items from various segments of life, like those used in their cult, army, crafts, deities, architecture, etc.

Architectonic lay-out of the museum enables visitors to communicate through the part in which the items are exposed in one direction leading to the terrace of the museum. There are two terraces, a smaller, lower terrace and a bigger, upper terrace which is situated on the roof of the museum. These terraces are also used as rooms in which collection of stone monuments are exhibited. The upper terrace is simultaneously used as a place from which one has a perfect panoramic view on the valley of Neretva river and Metković. From the terraces one can go downstairs to the basement of the museum and have a drink in the museum''s coffee bar. On the terrace of the coffee bar there is a Roman mosaic, fully renovated, protected with glass and placed on its original place. It belonged to a Roman tavern (tabernae). During the summer there are usually some cultural events, e.g. exhibition of paintings, books presentations, poetry evenings, scientific seminars and various plays. Disabled people can easily make a tour through the museum because it is fully equiped with appliances for their easier movement.

This museum plays another role too - it gives a complete information about Vid. At the reception desk one can buy some professional books about Narona, guide-books to the museum in three languages, and get some information about other localities in Vid. There is also a souvenir shop where replicas of original ceramic, stony or glass findings from Narona can be bought.

The opening of the museum entirely changed Vid and its life. From a small village it developed into a recognizable destination on cultural and tourist map of Croatia and Europe as well. The economic development of Vid was stimulated too. People from Vid are very proud of the museum and they look forward to every guest who comes to visit Vid and its museum. In the first year from the opening, there have been around 20 000 visitors. These are mainly tourists who visit Croatia during the summer, organized tours from various tourist destinations on the Adriatic coast or visitors from neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina. A lot of archeology students from various universities, pupils from primary and secondary schools together with their professors and teachers, come to visit the museum.
Recently, there has been a new stimulation for further research of the locality and publication of some professional and popular books about Vid and Narona in ancient times.

This is the first museum in Croatia built on the archeological locality "in situ". Archeological museum Narona protected and preserved unique and world findings whose presentation enables the most representative complex of antique town Narona to be experienced.