Zagreb has an art museum with the strange reputation of exhibiting the largest collection of fakes in the world. The Mimara Museum, whose real name is the Public Institution of the Art Collection of Ante and Wiltrud Topić Mimara, houses 3,700 artworks, 1,500 of which can be seen by the public.
The Mimara Museum (Muzej Mimara in Croatian) is one of the largest museums in Zagreb, but also in the country.
A controversial museum
The museum features pieces discovered by Ante Topić Mimara. He was trained in art by the famous Italian painter Antonio Mancini. He bought many works of art over the years. He married a wealthy Italian woman in order to acquire authentic works of art. He was always looking for exceptional pieces and did not hesitate to vandalize small churches to get their treasures. He ended up being wanted for commissioning and selling fake works of art. During the Second World War, his friends included the former Yugoslav leader Tito, whom he advised, and the former Nazi party leader Hermann Göring, who helped him get stolen paintings from Jews.
Ante Topić Mimara carried on his shady business after the war and successfully looted more works of art. He finally returned to Zagreb after travelling through several countries and left his “collection” to Croatia in 1987 in exchange for real estate and a large sum of money.
The museum is now owned by the Croatian state. You can see works ranging from antiquity to the 20th century. Most of the paintings are from European masters, but there are also Egyptian and Asian pieces on display. The collection is housed in a beautiful neoclassical building. The building is a former high school built in the 19th century and designed by the architect Waidmann. It takes several hours to explore the whole museum, which has the same size as the Louvre.
Mimara Museum: practical information
- Address : Roosevelt Square, Zagreb (lower town, a few minutes walk from the center)
- Opening hours : from 10 am to 5 pm every day (closed at 2 pm on Sunday). Longer opening hours in the summer.
- Price: less than 10 euros per entry.
- Language: Croatian and English. Audioguides are available in English.