The Best Museums and Galleries To Visit in Split

The Mestrović Gallery boasts an impressive sculpture collection
The Mestrović Gallery boasts an impressive sculpture collection | © David Clay/Flickr
Peterjon Cresswell

In and around the city’s historic centre, Split boasts a modest scattering of museums that make a pleasing diversion for visitors escaping the summer heat. This is history presented in old-school fashion – the absorbing artworks and intriguing artefacts speak for themselves. The many impressive works of sculptor Ivan Mestrović – housed in two separate complexes overlooking the sea – are worth the visit to Split alone. Here is Culture Trip’s pick of the best museums and galleries to visit in stunning Split.

Arrive in style with this eight-day coastal cruise from Dubrovnik to Split, and visit local vineyards, historic Mostar and the waterfalls of Krka National Park.

1. Archaeological Museum

Museum

A fragment of mosaic at the Archaeological Museum in Split, depicting a figure in a white robe and a bust on a plinth.
© Stéphane Gallay / Flickr
Established way back in 1820, the Archaeological Museum is well worth the 10-minute trek from town up Zrinsko-Frankopanska. Prime exhibits include a late-Neolithic ceramic bowl found on Hvar, a near-intact warrior’s helmet from 400BCE and plentiful finds from the Roman settlement at nearby Salona. The best local discoveries include tombstone mosaics, a sarcophagus decorated with a whole range of animals and a bust of the Emperor Trajan, along with three early Christian sarcophagi.

2. Ethnographic Museum

Cathedral, Museum, School

In the shadow of the tall Cathedral tower, the Ethnographic Museum owes its existence to turn-of-the-century school director Kamilo Toncić and the handicrafts he collected across Dalmatia to show his pupils. Furniture and kitchen implements also feature. Part of the museum extends into what were Diocletian’s imperial bedchambers – a peek is worth the modest price of admission alone. A Roman staircase then leads to the roof of the vestibule to provide a fine view of Split’s historic centre and the sea and islands beyond.

3. Split City Museum

Museum

Exterior view of the white-painted Split City Museum, a historic building with an eclectic mix of differently shaped windows.
© brownpau / Flickr
Illustrating urban history over 2,000 years, the somewhat old-school collection of the Split City Museum runs from an artist’s impression of Diocletian’s Palace to coins bearing the head of the emperor himself and a map showing where the city was bombed during World War II. A separate wing is dedicated to Split artist Emanuel Vidović, a contemporary of Ivan Mestrović, whose works include paintings of Split harbour and cathedral. The Roman remains collected by the noble Papalić family, who owned this Gothic-Renaissance palace, were later taken to the city’s Archaeological Museum.

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