Gabrielli Pallace


The permanent archaeological exhibition

The archaeological collection speaks of the oldest maritime routes and links between the inhabitants of northwestern Istra and those of the neighbouring Adriatic coasts. Some Neolithic pottery finds from the caves of the Trieste Karst and Istra and some Bronze Age artefacts found during the archaeological excavations at Kaštelir above Korte near Izola and in Piran are exhibited there. Contacts with the neighbouring Adriatic coasts were particularly lively in the Early Iron Age, of which speak the objects found at Kaštelir above Korte, including a crater wine bowl from the 7th–5th centuries BC.


Cultural history

The Ship Models of Father Gabriel Gruber
Gabriel Gruber was born in 1740 in Vienna. He studied in Graz, and became a Jesuit in 1755. He was an expert in hydrotechnology and architecture, but also had a basic knowledge of navigation and the history of seamanship.
In 1769 he started teaching mathematics, mechanics, hydraulics and engineering at the School of Mechanical Engineering in Ljubljana. Some of the teaching materials were ship models that were made at the school between 1774 and 1783, and are now exhibited at our museum. They are believed to have been made by Spirito Vigo and his assistants.


Seamen's Votive Tablets
Before going to sea, the daring seamen and fishermen used to go to these churches to make their vows and pray to the Saints, especially St. Mary, St. Nicholas and St. Blasius, to protect them. Upon their safe return home, they would thank the Saints with tablets.
The largest collection of the seamen's votive tablets is held in the vestry of the parish and pilgrims' church of St. Mary's Appearance in Strunjan. Some originals and copies of the votive tablets from this church are exhibited in the Maritime Museum.

The Collection of Ship Figureheads
In addition to the precious antiques found at the Maritime Museum, such as pieces of art, instruments and other ship items, figureheads are an important part of the collection. Figureheads are wooden sculptures which once served as prow ornaments on wooden vessels from simple fishermen's boats to cargo ships, warships and pirate ships. They have been used on vessels for thousands of years. Their role, once mystic, religious or superstitious, became increasingly aesthetic. As such, figureheads have been preserved to the present day, especially in northern Europe, France and England.



Here we can see pictures and objects dealing with sea-fishing at Izola, private sea-fishing along the Slovene Istran coast, and fishing among the Slovenes in Slovene ethnic territory from Trieste to the Timavo river, with emphasis on the techniques of industrial and private fishing, origin and development of fish-processing industry at Izola, private fishing vessels, nets, lights, small fishing inventory, pictorial and written materials on tuna fishing and the so-called »chupas«, boats made of tree trunks, used by Slovene fishermen in the Trieste province.



Maritime history

Austrian and Austro-Hungarian period
With the development of Trieste in the 19th century, Slovene territory became an important intersection of trade routes. Trieste and other coastal towns were being increasingly inhabited by Slovenes, where they looked for various jobs in dockyards and shipping trade as well as in merchant navy as officers and sailors. Some of them invested, on their own or together with their partners, into the purchase of ships, hoping to succeed in this branch of economy.


The centre of the military development was at the beginning in Venice but after the proclamation of the Independent Venetian Republic in 1848 it was moved to Trieste where also the Military Navy Academy was active for the period of ten years. After 1856 Pulj became the most important Austrian military port and as well as the military navy base hosting practicaly all the most important Austrian military navy institutions. 

This collection relates on the Slovene seamen and their lives in the Austrian and the Austro-Hungarian Navy.


Slovene mariners 1918-1945

The collection attempts to acquaint the visitors with the way of life and seamen's culture in the period between the two wars and their life stories in World War II. Here some personal possessions are presented, particularly parts of clothing and documents, photographs, minor nautical devices and ship models.


Marine painters and their works
The collection of works by various marine painters originated during the first two decades after the Museum was established with a systematic collection of marines in our Littoral region as well as elsewhere in Slovenia and in cross-border countries. In such manner collected and for the first time dealt with paintings in fact represent the most significant achievements of this genre of the period (the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the twentieth century) that have managed to survive in this part of the world. They are most interesting not only due to their artistic value but also for their documentary significance.