ZAGREB EARTHQUAKE, 22nd March 2020

On Sunday 22nd March 2020, ZAGREB, the capital of Croatia, suffered an earthquake of 5.3 on the Richter scale. Tremors are continuing. Eye witnesses say that it was a most terrifying experience. People are afraid and worried, coping, at the same time, also with the coronavirus pandemic.

Most of the buildings in the old part of the town, built towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, were affected, some evacuated. Roofs are open and chimneys have tumbled. There are very few church bells ringing out as many of their towers and bells have been affected.

Public buildings and museums and their collections have also suffered. Among those which had sustained the most damage is the Museum of Arts and Crafts, the Archaeological Museum, the Music Academy, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Architecture. The building of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, also in this particular part of Zagreb, has luckily escaped major damage. However, other institutions under the management of the Academy, such as their Museum of Casts, the Gliptoteka, their Library and Cabinet of Graphics are affected, but, luckily, minor damage to the Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer Collection.

Further afield, not in this part of town, one of the rare privately held museums in Croatia, dedicated to the memory of the 19th century Croatian writer, August Senoa, sustained great damage to their already leaking roof, chimneys, collections and the actual structure of the building. Here is an interesting historical fact. August Senoa was also a well-known journalist. When Zagreb was hit by the biggest earthquake so far, 140 years ago, it was August Senoa who described damage, in most particular detail and in a very poignant way, to the Croatian cultural heritage on that occasion.

Many churches have been affected too, most particularly the Cathedral and the Archbishop's Palace. Also, the 17th century church of St Catherine's, St Mark's church, dating to the 13th century and the Franciscan's, all in the Upper Town.

The earthquake struck at 5.30 in the morning. Normally, there would have been worshippers there, even at this early hour. Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, there were no worshippers nor clergy around. In the Jesuit church in Palmoticeva Street, the Basilica of the Heart of Jesus, right in the middle of the affected area, the whole ceiling collapsed.

We must be grateful that there has been no loss of human life in this earthquake, except for a little girl of 15 who was injured in her own home and did not recover.

Jadranka Beresford-Peirse
Founder and Trustee
International Trust for Croatian Monuments
www.croatianmonuments.org

Today, 7th May 2020, The International Trust for Croatian Monuments, has made a First Aid Donation to five museums in Zagreb, which have suffered damage in the earthquake. They are; The Museum of Arts and Crafts, The Archaeological Museum, The Ethnographic Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Art and the August Senoa Museum. The donation of just over £1,100.00 was for the purchase of archival boxes and other conservation material which these museums needed urgently to store some of their collections, objects, which have been damaged and need to await safely when they may be restored, or undamaged, objects, which need to be stored safely while evacuated from their usual display positions.

For an article from the Art Newspaper, click here ...

To read about 'Damage to to Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts', click here ...

To read a letter from the museum, click here ...

International Institute of Conservation, News in Conservation, April 2020 ...

ITCM

The novelist August Senoa writing on New Year’s Eve, 1880, the year of the devastating earthquake in Zagreb.