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>Combinations with other dark destinations
>Combinations with non-dark destinations
What there is to see:
The museum is housed in an old building
which was occupied by an Italian military court during World War One
, so in a way it is itself a rare exhibit, given that most of the little town of Kobarid
was destroyed in the war.
Just outside the entrance are the open-air displays of two exhibits: a medium-calibre field gun and a (very) large-calibre shell.
Inside the large foyer are yet more shells of all kinds of sizes as well as crosses from war cemeteries and portrait photos of soldiers of various nations on the wall.
At the far end of the foyer is the museum shop, which is also where you pay your admission fee. Also on the ground floor are the rooms for temporary exhibitions as well as the room where the introductory film is screened.
This film, which lasts 20 minutes and can be played in a range of languages including English, Italian, German and a few more, provides a good overview of the course of the war on the Isonzo Front and what warfare in the high mountains really meant.
The museum's permanent exhibition is on the two floors above and is subdivided into several rooms with different themes.
One section is actually not about World War One at all but presents an overview of the history
and the region both before and after the war
, including the period of forced Italianization in the inter-war years and the occupation by Nazi Germany
from 1943 until the end of WWII
The rest of the museum is, however, concentrated on its main topic. This is subdivided into sections. Amongst these are the earlier phases from when the Italians entered the war in May 1915 and succeeded in taking the Krn mountain range and establishing fortification.
Another is about the war effort behind the front line as such and how people were affected all over the region. Yet another room concentrates on the suffering of the soldiers, on both sides, in this brutal mountain war.
This is also the darkest
part of the museum, naturally. In addition to 3-D reliefs of the front lines and a recreated section of the muck and gore of the trenches
, there are also photos of the horrific injuries
soldiers suffered. I had seen many of these images before (namely at the anti-war museum
), but still, they never fail to have their truly shocking effect. Not for the faint-hearted. Be warned.
On the top floor is a large room that is dedicated to the twelfth and final battle on the Isonzo Front, also known as the Battle of Kobarid
– or the “disaster” of Kobarid. The latter was certainly apt from the Italian point of view, as this was the quasi-decisive defeat of Italy
by the reinforced Austro-Hungarian forces, with support from Germany
… even though in the end it achieved nothing as the overall outcome of WWI
was of course the victory of the Entente powers after all.
On display in the various rooms are all manner of war relics
, ranging from plenty of guns and shells as well as personal items, clothes, including shoes, as well as various other bits of equipment. Especially poignant is the display of gas mortars and grenades. Yes, poison gas
was also used on this front line! (Not just at the Somme & Verdun
The largest exhibit is a life-size mock-up of a “Kaverna”, a dug-out cave of the Italian army. Inside is a dummy soldier writing a letter home. You can press a button with the language of your choice to listen to an audio recording reading out the letter's content.
In one of the hallways you'll find a large portrait of Ernest Hemingway. As a very young man he had been an eyewitness of, and in fact participant in, the Italian campaigns of WW1 in the region (as an ambulance driver mainly) and later reflected on this in his famous novel “A Farewell to Arms”.
Also back en route downstairs you can pop into a smaller side room which is about famous visitors to the museum, associations of various organizations with the museum and the awards it has won. The latter includes the title Council of Europe Museum Prize for 1993 and a nomination for European Museum of the Year also in 1993.
Downstairs it is usually worth exploring the temporary exhibition. At the time of my visit (in May 2016), this was about the Italian Army in the Upper Soča Region, and went hand in hand with the main permanent exhibition.
A look in the museum shop is also worthwhile. In addition to various books in several languages about the Great War in general and the Isonzo Front in particular they also have a number of free leaflets and maps of the region and its WWI-related sites.
All in all, I thought the acclaim the museum received is quite well deserved. It may be a bit “old school” in the way it is laid out, and with relatively few of the interactive elements that contemporary museums seem to have to come with. But is well done in that older style and I found it very educational and also moving.
The museum, despite its rather rural and remote location, is also exceptionally welcoming to foreign visitors. Not only are all labels and descriptive texts written in four languages (Slovenian, English, German and Italian), they also offer introductions and tours in yet more languages. And what's more, I found the museum extremely responsive when I made a few enquires by email ahead of my visit. Given that so many other enquiries I have made with lots of museums were simply left unanswered, I think this museum's communicative merits too deserves a special mention here!
just a hundred yards or so to the east of the centre of the little town of Kobarid
, on Gregorčičeva ulica 10.
Access and costs: in a somewhat remote village, but right in the centre of it; not expensive.
From within Kobarid
, the museum easy to find and walkable from almost everywhere. If you come by car, you can park near the museum in the “white zone” (free – elsewhere fees and/or time restrictions apply).
Opening times: daily, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. between April and September, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the rest of the year.
Admission: 6 EUR (4 EUR concession). Temporary exhibitions: free.
Guided tours for groups smaller than 15 persons: 20 EUR; guided tours outside the museum: 25 EUR per hour.
Time required: between about 45 minutes and two hours, possibly more if you want to read everything there is.
Combinations with other dark destinations:
The museum itself offers several guided tours to other locations along the WWI
Isonzo Front – but at least one of them can also easily be visited independently: Kolovrat
Furthermore, there are plenty more WWI-related sites along the Walk of Peace trail that more or less follows the front line from the Alps all the way down to the Adriatic coast. You can pick up leaflets about these locations and the trail in the museum shop and/or the Walk of Peace visitor centre that is just across the street from the museum and also features a mini-exhibition with interactive screens etc. of its own.
Combinations with non-dark destinations:
see under Kobarid
- Kobariski muzej 01 - the building
- Kobariski muzej 02 - foyer
- Kobariski muzej 03 - lots of war relics
- Kobariski muzej 04 - shoe
- Kobariski muzej 05 - field telephone
- Kobariski muzej 06 - flags and weapons
- Kobariski muzej 07 - bombs and shells
- Kobariski muzej 08 - carnage
- Kobariski muzej 09 - reconstruction
- Kobariski muzej 10 - mountain warfare
- Kobariski muzej 11 - prison door with inmates notes
- Kobariski muzej 12 - lots of info
- Kobariski muzej 13 - Kaverna
- Kobariski muzej 14 - inside
- Kobariski muzej 15 - dummy writing a letter home
- Kobariski muzej 16 - mountain front lines
- Kobariski muzej 17 - war gear
- Kobariski muzej 18 - gas mortar
- Kobariski muzej 19 - a section on WWII too
- Kobariski muzej 20 - back outside