Claire Visits Montenegrin Museums!

Written by Claire Messenger, International Training Programme Manager

Kotor is a beautiful town on the rugged coastline of Montenegro.  It was founded by the Romans and developed through the Middle Ages and today, the wonderful buildings and cobbled alleyways attract a large number of visitors.  While there recently, and after a coffee in the main square watching the world go by, I thought it only right and proper to visit two of the towns museums.

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Firstly we headed for the Maritime Museum of Montenegro.  The museum is dedicated to Kotor’s proud history as a naval power and the displays are housed in a wonderfully restored early 18th century palace.

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The collection is made up of photographs, paintings, uniforms, highly decorated weapons and models of ships and has been open to the public since 1900.  The museum covers some of the most important events and personalities from Kotor’s maritime history and highlights the golden age of Kotor navigation from 16th to 18th century. One of the key pieces is a the oldest document about the navigation in the area around the Bay of Kotor dating back to 1168. Despite knowing very little – shame on me!! – about the history of Kotor, we had a fascinating visit.

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The model boats where astonishing – so intricately made – and I was very happy to see some objects from here in the UK.  One case contained a Welsh dinner service and another, a bottle for messages to be sent – in this case, rather romantically, to a loved one.

We then made our way to the Cats Museum – for obvious reasons if you know my love of cats!!  Kotor is famous for its large cat population – so much so, they seem to be the unofficial symbol of the town.  It isn’t exactly clear why but some say that the cats came from the boats used in the sea trade in the Adriatic where they would have been used for keeping the numbers of mice under control.  Perhaps they imagined an easier life on dry land and decided to stay??

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The Cats Museum came into being following a donation of a collection of period images from the Countess di Montereale Mantica and was added to with the collection of the International Cats’ Adoption Centre Badoer in Venice.  The museum contains postcards, lithographs, prints, jewellery, advertisements, newspapers, magazines, stamps, medals and coins and is not just about cats but tries to show – and encourage – a greater respect by ‘man’ for the environment.

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My favourite section was where the museum has asked children, both local and from around the world, to send them drawings of cats which are then displayed in the museum.

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The small admission fee – just 1 Euro – goes towards taking care of Kotor’s famous felines – a very worthy cause I’m sure you’ll agree!!