The Red History Museum is a unique interactive experience and is fast becoming a global sensation- here’s a self-guided tour that explains everything you need to know to get there and to experience this “must-see” experience when visiting Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Red History Museum reviews rave about its real-life stories, its use of new and old technologies, and its brilliant focus on red history – of everyday life under the Communist Party in the former Yugoslav regime.
Come and see what all the fuss is about!
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Anyone visiting Dubrovnik’s old town is likely to be taken in by the living history of its streets, and many history buffs will want to know more about the recent Croatian history of the Balkan wars – but Dubrovnik’s Red History Museum transports you to a very different time and place: communist Yugoslavia.
Incredibly, the Red History Museum is the first interactive museum in Dubrovnik devoted to what everyday life was like under the Yugoslav regime.
This is a fact that perhaps reflects the mixed feelings Croats still have about the period to this day.
The Red History Museum (Muzej Crvene Povijesti in Croatian) opened in 2019 and allows visitors to witness history coming to life before their eyes.
Making the most of both new and old technologies the museum takes you on a journey between 1945 and 1990.
There are inhabitable spaces filled with artifacts from the day as well as the use of modern technology in the form of an augmented reality app, multimedia exhibits, and interactive displays.
In 2022, the Red History Museum was granted a place in Croatia’s national register of museums, but it was founded by local people wanting to portray local history.
Historians, journalists, photographers, archeologists, and designers have come together to collaborate on a project which has been supported by donors from all over Croatia.
They have supplied the Red History Museum with relics of that bygone age – as well as the real-life stories they carry in their memories.
These treasures have been supplemented by careful additions unearthed by the museum’s founders, who combed local flea markets to find authentic retro items.
Layout of the Red History Museum
The Red History Museum boasts a permanent main exhibit and also houses additional temporary shows. In addition, it has a small library and regularly hosts film showings, talks, and workshops.
The main exhibit is split into three sections: socialism in theory, socialism in practice, and socialism in memory.
The three sections paint a picture of a period of contrasts of how life under the Communist regime was portrayed in the past and is remembered today.
If you have no idea about the history of the regime, fear not, because you will be given a crash course in how the Yugoslav Communist Party came to power under the rule of Tito and governed Yugoslavia for nearly half a century.
The museum vividly depicts what daily life felt like in this rather unique political context: similar but different to the USSR and neighboring states on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain.
A fact that might be surprising is that Yugoslavia actually occupied an interesting place in the politics of the time: it found itself outside the Eastern bloc and had economic links with Western Europe.
Its policy of being “nonaligned” was an attempt to position itself somewhere between the West and the USSR.
One thing which is however sure to ring a bell with anyone who has studied totalitarianism is the secret agencies that kept a watchful eye on the populace and made sure they were “happy” citizens.
A Yugoslav living room
For those of you who have ever wondered what a home would look like in a regime where all property belongs to the government, there is the opportunity to wander around a re-creation of a Croatian living room.
It’s complete with the kitsch decoration of the day and a primitive television set.
Similarly, the bookshelves are lined with novels, textbooks, and comics which transport you to an age where the information one side of Europe received could be very different from what was told on the other side.
The kitchen too showcases a similar mix of gaudy colors, basic utensils, and retro products.
It is easy to imagine someone inhabiting this space, and although the feel is basic and utilitarian, it would have compared with the reality of many working-class people living in Western Europe in past decades too.
Yugoslav pop culture is accounted for too, as a fine collection of the greatest hits of Yugoslav pop as well as TV commercials can be inspected.
Elsewhere, we get a feel for contemporary fashion, as a retro salon hair dryer sits on either side of vintage handbags and Croatian fashion magazines.
Arguably the museum’s prize piece brings us to the end of Communist Yugoslavia: the Yugo model used by Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis in an unlikely car chase in the 1995 blockbuster Die Hard 3.
Souvenir shop and terrace
Of course, no museum is complete without a shop, but the version at the Red History Museum is suitably kooky: you can buy Yugoslav versions of Coca-Cola and Fanta!
The braver among you might opt to try Bronhi, said to be the hardest candies in the world, and truly a passport to a time when sweet treats were both hard and harder to come by
For those of us who prefer simpler pleasures, there is a terrace at the back of the museum where the museum’s helpful staff will pour you a glass of some of the most reasonably priced beer you are likely to find in Dubrovnik.
The museum is located outside of Dubrovnik’s city walls, in what was a conscious effort to house the museum away from the overcrowded old town.
Instead, it occupies a suitable space in the Gruz district: the old TUP industrial complex, one of the few surviving examples of social industrial architecture in the city.
Gruz is also home to Dubrovnik’s ferry and bus terminal, which makes the museum easy to get to.
The number 1 bus is the quickest way to get there and away, leaving you with a five minutes walk to the museum, which is just behind the Hotel Petka.
Entrance fee and opening hours
Entry costs 9 Euros for adults, and children under 10 get in for free. The museum is open from 9 am-10 am, and part of your fee goes to local youth education programs.
Other Croatian History Museums and Art Galleries
If you’ve enjoyed this unique interactive experience of a very different time when the watchful eye of secret agencies was upon people living in a country under communist rule, then explore the other histories and cultural wonders of Croatia.
You’ll find equally unusual museums and galleries scattered all over Dubrovnik. Here’s a complete guide to the best of the rest: Best Dubrovnik Museums.