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The Archaeological Collection and Lapidarium Dr. Grga Novak


The collection was started in 1966 as the public archaeological collection of the Hvar Heritage Museum. In 1982 it was thoroughly reorganized and new material was added to it. It was dedicated to Dr. Grga Novak (1888-1978), a member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts and a prominent Croatian archaeologist and historian born in Hvar.
The collection is displayed in the historical part of the town of Hvar, in the former Dominican Saint Mark’s church dating from the 16th century. The collection is placed in the former apse and the lapidarium is located in an open space within the church. The total display area is some 500 m2, comprising the closed space of 100 m2 and the open space of 400 m2. Apart from a smaller depot which is an integral part of the former Saint Mark’s church, several dislocated depots also belong to the collection.

The Archaeological Collection boasts more than
2 500 items, 427 of which are put on display. The displayed items testify to the presence of man on the island of Hvar, starting from the earliest ones, dating from around 6000 BC, up to those dating from the end of the ancient period, i.e. 5th or 6th century. Prehistoric items include whole ceramic vessels or their fragments, stone, flint, and bone artefacts and lumps of volcanic glass obsidian, all finds from Croatian caves (Markova špilja, Grapčeva špilja and Pokarvenik), as well as numerous prehistoric grave mounds. Items dating from the antique period include stone reliefs, ceramic vessels, brick fragments, oil lamps, glass tearcups, money and decorative items made of metal, glass, and bone, mostly coming from unidentified archaeological sights. Other items from the antique period are amphorae, lead stocks, ceramic vessels, and nautical equipment and tools recovered from the sea around the island of Hvar.
The Archaeological Collection was compiled through the purchase of some private collections from Hvar (Marchi-Jeličić, Novak), donations and conveyance by individuals or other institutions (the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, the Archaeological Museum Split), or confiscations from unauthorised explorers of the underwater world near Hvar, but most items have been acquired during the hydroarchaeological and archaeological explorations of the island of Hvar carried out in the last few years (cargo and equipment remains after several shipwrecks in the antique period, hydroarchaeological reconnaissance finds, finds made during the exploration and reconnaissance of the island of Hvar, carried out as a part of the Hvar Project).

The Lapidarium Collection boasts 112 items, most of which are displayed along the perimeter walls of the former church and its sacristy. It includes art, heraldic and epigraph monuments as well as architectural fragments from Hvar, dating from the Renaissance period and more recent historical periods. Gravestones from the 15th and 16th century with the coats of arms of noble families from Hvar are displayed in the church and form a separate unit within the Lapidarium Collection. The Lapidarium Collection holdings have been built through donations made by institutions, companies and individuals from Hvar and, to a lesser extent, through purchase.

The Saint Mark Gallery is an integral part of the Archaeological Collection and Lapidarium Dr. Grga Novak. It is located in the former sacristy and houses smaller cultural, historical and art exhibitions. In summer, the open space within the church is the venue of numerous exhibitions, lectures and musical and theatrical events.

One of the most important research projects of the Archaeological Collection is the creation of a database of archaeological finds on Hvar, established in cooperation with the international crew gathered around the Hvar Project. The database is constantly updated.
Future plans for the collection include some very important and urgent projects, like the restoration and revitalisation of the building and conceptual and spatial transformation of the collection into a modern town museum.

Collection manager: Marinko Petrić, senior curator