A reflection of our history of the last century
On the western side of Hektorović’s Tvrdalj, at the beginning of Njiva, the area of Stari Grad which was intensively built in the second half of the 19th century, in 1896 the Biankini brothers built this great palace, a neo-Renaissance house with a garden. With this building, the united and hard working brothers, the four sons of Juraj Biankini, shipowner and captain, made a strong imprint on the urban transformation of Stari Grad at the end of 19th century.
Time of prosperity
The palace was built by the Biankini brothers for representative purposes. Although a united and, for the island, a rich family, they needed to sell the old house in Middle Street and their father’s big transatlantic sailing ship to complete the construction of the new palace.
Their solidarity in construction is noted at two places in the palace: the lintel of the street door is engraved with the year of construction – 1896 and the letters BB (Braća Biankini – Biankini Brothers), and the same monogram is also on the forged grilles of the entrance doors on the first and second floor.
We don’t know who the architect was or who the builders of the house were. The only known person is the painter-decorator who painted the monumental staircase and fields above all the interior doors on the upper floors of the palace. It is Ivan Zamala, from Zadar, who at the same time worked on the decoration of the newly completed Dominican church of St Peter the Martyr in Stari Grad. We also know that the palace garden was designed in the Classicist style by Petar Biankini, who also planted the now century-old Himalayan cedar.
Times of trouble
The palace experienced a dramatic change and damage during and immediately after the Second World War. First, it was used as the Italian and then as the German command, then as the Partisan hospital, and immediately after the war, as the municipal Communist Party Committee and then as the People’s Sewing School for Girls. At that time the furniture and family archives were destroyed, and a large plaster bust of Juraj Biankini by Ivan Meštrović (world renowned Croatian sculptor), which was standing in the hall, was destroyed. Later, in the 1950s, the palace housed a kindergarten, and the basements were used as a warehouse for building materials of the People’s Store.
Time of new life: the palace as a cultural centre and a museum
In 1963 the palace opened for visitors as the Juraj Plančić Collection of Arts and then efforts were made to transform the palace into the municipal museum. The Captain’s Room was exhibited in 1967, the archaeological collection was established in 1995, as well as the Music School on the first floor, and in 2003 the permanent hydro-archaeological exhibition was established in the central part of the basements. Part of the garden was transformed into a lapidarium in 2009, and in 2011 the ground floor was opened as a new gallery space for temporary exhibitions. Today, the palace is the Stari Grad Museum and therefore has fulfilled the desire of the Biankini family, who donated the palace to Stari Grad to be used for cultural purposes.
The palace’s interior decoration and layout of the rooms from the time of construction is preserved.
While walking through the museum stop and feel the spirit of the prosperous times of the palace.