The history of Croatian Railway Museum
The emergence of an idea to establish the Croatian Railway Museum dates back as early as 1966, when railway management in Zagreb decided to start a Railway Department within the Zagreb Technical Museum. This decision was not put into practice due to lack of space and insufficient number of staff. Ten years later, on March 27, 1986, railway management within the parent company made another attempt at starting a railway museum. However, that attempt did not come to fruition either.
At the beginning of the 1990s, a group of people supporting the establishment of a railway museum made a public appearance as the Initiative Board for the Establishment of a Railway Museum in Zagreb. Board members included: Antun Bauer, Ph.D., Emil Bohutinsky, MFA in sculpture, Mladen Bošnjak, Ph.D., adjunct lecturer, Čedomil Čavlina, engineer, Franjo Fajst, retired Croatian Railway Undertaking inspector, and Ivica Paić, engineer.
On March 19, 1991, the Railway Museum of Croatia was founded in Zagreb, and is currently active within HŽ-Infrastruktura d.o.o. The decision to rename the museum into the Croatian Railway Museum was made by HŽ Management Board on May 20, 2001, under which name the Museum is still active today. In May of the same year, on the occasion of the 25th Zagreb Salon of Fine Arts at the Zagreb Glyptotheque, the members of the Initiative Board presented the proceedings of papers on the subject of railway museum in Zagreb. Members of the initiative produced a text in which they explained the reasons for starting a museum and the need for the existence of such a railway museum, and among other things, the following: ''One of the real reasons to establish a railway museum is a special kind beauty and an aesthetic impression which the railway carries within and brings with itself. The aesthetics of machine and speed, the beauty of technical design, the functionality and pragmatics of technology rely on a man's need for purposeful things, but also the need for romanticism, day-dreaming, fantasizing. There is especially the period of steam locomotives, evoked by film or literature, filled with wanderlust. Nowadays travels are somewhat different than before and are not connected with so much excitement, expectation and feelings of adventure and distances.''
Since the beginnings, the Museum has been developing in the southern part of the factory TŽV Gredelj, with entrance from the side of Ulica grada Vukovara.
Workshop buildings of the factory TŽV Gredelj have been previously designated as ideal space to house HŽM collections, due to the historical mark they bear as one of the oldest railway industry complexes in Croatia, because of architectural value of their facilities, preserved equipment and machinery dating from the beginning of 20th ct. and semantic connection of the ambiance and materials preserved at HŽM.
The value of Croatian railway industry heritage was stressed at all gatherings, together with the need for its valorization and carrying out of re-urbanization in line with conservation of heritage values. In this instance, the industry complex of TŽV Gredelj has been highlighted as bearing multiple historical marks and thus an ideal venue to house HŽM collections and form an in situ museum.
In 2003, a part of locomotives and wagons were transferred from depots to Zagreb Marshalling Yard and Sisak and gradually underwent the conservation process, and thus the first temporary exhibition display was established, measuring 2400 m2 of outdoor space.
Currently, this space is occupied by 20 railway vehicles on display.
Various railway stations across Croatia contain a display of 15 steam locomotives, which belong to HŽM holdings. The locomotives were displayed at stations in the mid 1980s, at a time when steam traction was finally taken out of service in Croatia. Since that moment, they present valuable technical heritage monuments.
Shortly after the establishment of the Croatian Railway Museum, the role of preserving and restoring them was taken over by the Museum.
The Croatian Railway Museum is continuing its work as a registered museum institution, but within the organization structure of HŽ Infrastruktura d.o.o. and within the Management Board Office.