History of the building and museum
The history of the oldest palace in Karlovac and the history of the City Museum have been running together since 1953. Namely, that is the year when the Museum, founded in 1904, commenced its operation in the palace built around 1631 by the Karlovac general Vuk Krsto Frankopan.
In the tumultuous 20th century it was not easy to provide for the Museum’s continuous development. The appeal to establish a museum was published in Svjetlo, edited by Dušan Lopašić, and when the city authorities rendered their decision on the establishment in 1904, it was supported by a modest budget for the development of the new institution. Nevertheless, to this day the museum holdings include two paintings by Vjekoslav Karas and the first bicycle from the streets of Karlovac, Petar Lukšić’s “bone shaker”, donated as part of the collection drive carried out by the Museum Committee established in 1911.
Interest in the museum was sporadic all the way until 1950s. Of note, in 1952, when at the incentive of the Executive Council of the Croatian Parliament the first list of these institutions was published under the title Museums and Archives in Croatia, Ivana Vrbanić, BA, was employed in Karlovac as the first professional employee, and was also the person of decisive importance for the recognition of the “genealogy” from 1904. The old Baroque palace in the neighborhood of the old city hall was recognized as the best city locus for a museum.
The memory of this palace also includes the nuptials of Katarina Frankopan and Petar Zrinski in 1641, residence of the Karlovac general Ivan Josip Herberstein, who after 1671 carried out the confiscation of the estates of their families, the estate of count Stjepan Patačić, military and then civil administration.
The museum developed as an organization through the merger with the Painting Gallery (1954), which then became the gallery department, and the development of cultural history, ethnography, archeology, natural science departments and the department of modern history since the establishment of the Republic of Croatia. Museum activities taking place in the locations of the City Museum on Strossmayer Square, Vjekoslav Karas Gallery in the New Center, Museum of the Homeland War, and the Dubovac Castle have grown over time into a system of four structural units which as of 2021 make up the “Karlovac City Museums”.