Flavio Bonin, Director, Maritime Museum “Sergej Mašera” Piran, Slovenia
The seat of the “Sergej Mašera” Maritime Museum Piran is located in the two-storied classicist Gabrielli Palace, built in the mid – 19th century along the Piran inner harbour.
The first Piran collections about the history of seamanship originated in the City Museum, which was founded in 1954 in the Gabrielli Palace. In 1967, the City Museum was renamed the Maritime Museum “Sergej Mašera”. Since then it has been investigating the history of Slovene seamanship, collecting the material cultural heritage associated with navigation and branches of economy associated with the sea (salt-making, fishing, shipping trade, etc.). In cooperation with the only Slovene maritime carrier “Splošna plovba Portorož” (formerly “Splošna plovba Piran”), it set up, in 1979, a permanent collection in the St. Mark’s Villa in Portorož. The endeavours to set up an ethnological collection led, on the other hand, to the restoration of an old Istrian rural house, informally known as Tona’s House, in the little village of St. Peter above the Dragonja river, in which an oil mill on the ground floor and a couple of residential rooms (kitchen and bedroom) from the end of the 19th century on the second floor were reconstructed by the Museum after the House’s restoration in 1981. Its third non-residential museum collection sprang up in 1991 after the reconstruction of a salter’s house al the Sečovlje Salt-pans; in the ensuing few years this was followed by the restoration of yet another salter’s house and with a thorough expansion of the salt fields.
Apart from everything referred to above, the Museum has had, since 1995, the first restored museum vessel a travelling sailing boat (cutter M6) formerly owned by Pia and Pino Mlakar, world famous ballet dancers moored in the Piran harbour.
The Museum of Salt-making at the Sečovlje Valley
In the last decade of the 20th century, a museum the salt-pan complex or the Museum of Salt-making was set up in the abandoned Fontanigge salt-pans along the Giassi channel. The complex encloses three restored salt-pan houses, their salt pools and the Giassi Channel as the main supply of seawater. Two of the restored houses comprises a collection dealing with the old salt-making in general, while the other contains a salt repository and contemporarily furnished rooms and kitchen that can be used during the summer months by people working in salt pools and, occasionally, by individuals or groups involved in research and pedagogical work.
The Museum of Salt-making depicts the old procedure of salt-making in integral units of production, the origin of which date back to the Middle Ages.
A project for the restoration of the third house has already been prepared, in which a naturalistic centre is supposed to be set up, whit emphasis on the pans’ ornithology and on the salt-pans as of a Ramsar site.