Earthquake exhibition, Zagreb City Museum
Zagreb City MuseumEarthquake exhibition, Zagreb City Museum

Rebuilding Zagreb – earthquakes in focus at the City Museum

How the capital coped with two devastating catastrophes – each followed by rescue operations and reconstruction

Written by
PJ Cresswell
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An unusual but gripping subject for an exhibition, earthquakes are the focus of a series of videos, photographs and recordings currently on display at the Zagreb City Museum. Its title, ZG POTRES. HALO 193, refers to the Croatian word for ‘earthquake’ and the number for the emergency services.

The two biggest disasters to affect the capital, most recently in 2020 and 140 years before then in 1880, are presented in fascinating and terrible detail. These seismic events in urban history, one at the start of the pandemic, the other when the Habsburg city was just developing, are analysed and compared with each other, in order to raise public awareness for whenever the next such catastrophe might strike.

The earthquake of 1880 led to the building of Zagreb Cathedral and new urban planning, including the so-called Green Horseshoe of squares running through the Lower Town. The one that caused so much devastation in 2020 is illustrated by items found in ruined buildings and recordings of calls to the fire brigade, whose co-operation the exhibition organisers acknowledge.

Although much of the material is in Croatian, the immediacy of the videos and visual artefacts should be universally understood. ZG POTRES. HALO 193 runs until March 30, 2023.

Zagreb City Museum

Opatička 20 (mgz.hr/en). Open Tue-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 10am-2pm

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